Q: My husband and I will retire on July 1 and move to New Mexico. We have three grown happily married children living in nearby states. As we are moving from a large home, we are concerned about how to downsize our treasures and be freed from the responsibility of taking care of them.
We've discussed giving these items to our family as gifts, but none of them appear very enthusiastic.
What are our options?
A: How quickly lifestyles have changed! What we wanted and received in our childhoods were major gifts and purchases. With the economic and technological pressures on today's growing families, younger generations value different items. Who needs or has living space for grandfather's highboy chest? Who has the time to polish silver and the proper occasions to use it?
Set a deadline for relieving yourselves of large items well before July. Ask everyone what they might like, and if more than one wants the same item, draw straws or maybe offer a trade-off or purchase deal.
For the unwanted items, you have several options. You can choose between selling, hosting an estate sale, donating to charities (which potentially offers a tax write-off), sharing with a neighbor or offering to the person buying your home. — Doug
Q: I've never been very tidy, but I want to become more organized.
I have a very cluttered house, and I was recently shocked to see a television show about people who hoard their belongings. Many of them refused to recognize that their behavior was out of control.
I want to get rid of my unneeded items to avoid running into the same problem. What should I do?
A: Many of us have clutter in our homes, but it's important to prevent it from getting out of hand. Aside from the obvious space issues, clutter can also be detrimental to our health. If you are not able to care for your current possessions, inaccessible piles of dust and dirt, where insects and rodents can easily hide, can develop in your home.
Start from the ground up. Remove everything from a room or area, and go through each item individually.
Consider enlisting a friend or family member who can provide you with objective advice about what to get rid of. We often get emotionally attached to our belongings and need an impartial eye. If you disagree, put the item aside and come back to it. Your opinion on what is essential will likely develop throughout the cleaning process. Keep an open mind, and listen to outside advice.
To prevent future buildup of unnecessary items, consider making a new tradition. Many people value the idea of spring-cleaning, as we tend to collect new items throughout the year.
The best way to save yourself from this frustration is to perform periodic self-assessments of your possessions. — Emma, Doug's granddaughter
Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California retirement community. Contact him at [email protected] Emma, Doug's granddaughter, helps write this column. To find out more about Doug Mayberry and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.