Whether we’ve become empty nesters or are following the latest trend of decluttering, many of us baby boomers are downsizing.
That means less space for all those sentimental family heirlooms passed down through the generations and stuff we’ve carefully collected over our lifetime. We may assume our children will be thrilled when we give them our most prized possessions.
Think again. Turns out the Millennials aren’t so hip on family heirlooms. Maybe this is what they mean by generation gap these days.
Do our children want all those photo albums we gingerly created over the years? Nah, our kids don’t know half the people in them anyway. You’re likely to get a request to scan the important photos and email them. And who uses photo albums anymore? Our grown-up children are busy capturing their own life moments digitally through Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
That gorgeous formal dining room set and china passed down through the generations? Where would our kids put it? Besides, Millennials entertain much less formally than we did back in the day. They prefer a more minimal lifestyle instead of the fussy, bulky, and formal furnishings we grew up on. You may very well get a polite no thank-you.
How about all those old report cards, trophies, and artwork you carefully tucked away for your children? All those sweet homemade cards they lovingly made for you? Surely, they’ll want their own sentimental treasures. Not so much. It seems Millennials aren’t as nostalgic as us boomers.
Odds are our grown children are following the current trend to live minimally themselves and don’t own a home with an attic or basement to store stuff. They may travel or move a lot.
Several articles have been written lately regarding this phenomenon and the resulting clash between the generations.
Should this cause hurt feelings on our part? Should we try laying a little guilt to knock some sense into our children’s heads? “This means so much to me.” “I paid a lot of money for this.” “This is part of our family history.”
Heck no! There’s a fine line between bestow and burden. I say we should listen to and respect our children’s wishes. Furthermore, we should be proud of them.
Our grown-up children refuse to be defined by their possessions. Isn’t that a good thing? Didn’t we snub our noses during the 60’s at people for being too attached to material possessions? Our children have become independent adults now, making their own decisions and creating their own lifestyle – not copying ours. Isn’t that what we raised them to do?
So what should baby boomers do with all our heirlooms and possessions?
Save those items that you can’t bear to lose. Use your china everyday instead of storing it. But don’t hang on to items year after year because you can’t bother to sort through your belongings.
Remember, all those heirlooms and possessions served their practical purpose. You used and enjoyed them through the years. If you think these things are still useful, sell or donate them to someone who really wants and will appreciate them.
With love in their hearts, your children made homemade gifts and cards for you. You relished them through the years and the gifts brought you joy. The gift-giving cycles is now complete. Keep a few items and let the rest go.
Whatever you do, don’t force your children to deal with all the clutter after you’ve passed away. Do your children a favor and have an honest discussion. Allow your children to take items they truly love and that work for their lifestyle.
Then go through the sorting process now while you’re still healthy. And take heart. Your children don’t need that ancient massive armoire to remember you fondly and keep you in their heart.
Julie Gorges is an author, freelance writer, and blogger. During the past 20 years of professional writing, she has authored three books, had hundreds of article published in national and regional magazines, and won three journalism awards. You can visit her blog at http://www.babyboomerbliss.net.