Friday, April 20, 2018

Giving is Receiving

One does not have to look far today to hear about the concept of "Swedish Death Cleaning." The Danes have a similar philosophy. If one is not using something, get rid of it. Downsize as much as possible so that one does not leave a jumbled mess for relatives to muddle through when "the time comes."

I started out simple. I went through old correspondence and discarded a lot of it although I'll admit that I kept about half of what I looked at. Next, I decided to find good museum homes for the textiles (pillow covers and other textiles) that I collected with book publication in mind.

World War I silk handkerchief

Today I shipped important, historical silk pillow covers and other items. The recipient is the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri. About two weeks ago, I brought my entire collection of World War II textiles to the Wright Museum of World War II in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. I mailed other textiles to the C.C.C. Legacy organization in Edinburg, Virginia. Most all of the textiles I donated appear in my book, Sweetheart & Mother Pillows. I collected a few more after the book was published. In all, I gave away about 240 items.

Was it difficult to part with these items? Yes, but I know that they will be cared for very well in their new homes and I no longer have to "worry" about what will happen to them. They are important objects and need to be treated with the respect they deserve.

My sister Barbara, in the 1940s, drawing at now antique chalk board

I have begun looking around the house and seeing other things that beg for a new owner. Today I also gave away an antique, free-standing, chalk board that had belonged to my mother. There are no small children in the immediate family who would enjoy using it and I found a very good caretaker for that "piece of the past."

Little by little, I'll see to it that my book collection finds new readers, clothes that are outgrown but still very serviceable go to charity, and other belongings get minimized. When one spends a lifetime collecting things, one spends the second half of life disposing of them. It's not a bad thing, actually.

Many people will potentially benefit from seeing the museum textiles, on exhibit, or online. I remember when my husband decided to take the shutters off of our house. He was lining them up by the fence when a truck pulled up and a man asked to take them all. He said, "Yes!" He had no further use for them, but to someone else they held possibilities! Giving away things is a liberating task. It makes me happy to give something that I know someone else will enjoy.