Friday, March 5, 2010

Learning when to let go

My neighbor offered it while cleaning out her garage when she moved. There must have been stars my eyes when she asked if I wanted it, free. It was an antique French Provincial dining table with two legs with brass caps. It wasn’t in mint condition but it was decent and could easily be refinished to near perfection. An elderly French woman had given it to my neighbor years before.

The table went into from her alley garage to ours. I needed to think about where to put it. It was soon apparent that there was no room for it in our modest 100 year-old home. But it was beautiful and I didn’t want to let it go. I thought I’d keep it for my daughter’s when they grow up.

As I have written many times, this recession has landed on my family like Dorothy’s house landed on the Wicked Witch of the East in Oz. Despite the fact that we’ve lived within our means during our 14-year marriage, Mr. Golightly and I have had to tighten an already tight belt and turn to the charities we used to support.

But there are always ways to give, even when your own pockets are empty. Upon cleaning out my youngest daughter’s closet of quality toys she no longer plays with and nice clothes that no longer fit, I turned to the garage in rounding up the donations for the charitable thrift. I donate by season. With children, I always have items to donate.

And there it was, the beautiful antique table, unused for years sitting in my garage and my neighbor’s garage before. I sighed knowing it was time to let it go. It will be many years before either of my daughters will need it and who knows where they’ll be when the time comes, they could be living on the other side of the planet.

So the table went to the charitable thrift store where I know it will sell for a handsome but fair price to someone who will be thrilled to have it and will put it to use now.

I’ll bet there are items in your home that are not in use that another person needs. When we let go of those items not only to we help a charitable organization, we open the possibility for another person to honor that object and welcome it’s use.

Maybe when my daughters are grown, there will be a beautiful table waiting for them in a thrift store to help them outfit their new homes. I don’t like to think of them leaving the nest, but they will someday. Hopefully they will participate in the thrift market. Maybe by then, reuse will be more common than now.

14 comments:

Daniela said...

What a lovely post. I have been searching high and low for a nice table that I can refinish. Haven't found the right one yet, but I know I will. the one you had sounds perfect...wish I lived closer..haha

Jane said...

Your post is a beautifully written story of exactly what I have been going through in the last year. I finally decided that the clothes I had been saving from my older children for the younger ones, would really be appreciated by other children NOW and not in ten years. That the toys and kitchen stuff and even furniture I had been hoarding for years, would find a home NOW. I gave it ALL away. My husband was AMAZED!!! And I felt like I had a huge weight taken off my shoulders. Any time I felt pangs of "I should have kept that!" I thought of it's potential new home. Times are tough for everyone and I feel good knowing that I help someone else by not being such a packrat.
Everything I gave went to an association that gives to people in need or sells in a thrift shop (where I LOVE to shop myself). When I look through the aisles, I see my son's shirt from when he was 3, or a toy played with by my children for over tens years.

This Thrifted Life said...

I've tried to focus on just this sentiment this year--there will *always* be another deal, another great find at the thrift store. Hoarding and holding on to items that aren't serving me now is a waste of my time, energy, and space. Opening up my life by ridding my home of excess items I'm not using or loving right now leaves me with the faith that those things will be readily available when it really will be worth my time and energy to purchase them.

La Historiadora de Moda said...

This is a lovely post. I buy a lot of my clothes at thrift stores and regularly donate clothes that I don't really wear anymore. I also have donated furniture and appliances in the past. For some reason it is always a little harder to let go of furniture, though. But you are right. If it's not being used, it really should be in the home of someone who will use it.

PaperCameraScissor said...

We have a few thrift stores that actually pick up things at your door. I usually have a few bags of clothes and some house hold items we no longer use. I love when I can purge items. I also love knowing other people are coming into that store finding my items and loving them again.

Lonely Rivers said...

It's the law of circulation! A garage full of future projects, sentimental heirlooms, and outgrown clothes and sports equipment waiting for the right time in our lives, could be helping someone else right now. I do beleive that when we give - keeping money and things in circulation we all breathe better.

Saver Queen said...

It's sad, but letting go can indeed enrich your life by letting you move on. It provides a sense of relief, to only own exactly what you need and can actively cherish. Giving to thrift stores provides a sense of satisfaction, because we know that our donations are helping others and will be used and appreciated. It was a good decision and I hope that you feel good about it.

Also, we all have moments when we need help. You do so much great work with your blog, taking care of your family and giving back to the community in return. It is very inspirational.

Anonymous said...

Letting go of items that still had use in them used to seem wasteful to me. I also felt irresponsible for not getting the full use out of them--so keeping them around was a continual reminder that I was still wasteful! ( A can't win for losing situation.) Thrifting has lowered the risk that replacing something I happened to give away or donate needs to be costly. And donating truly useful items in good condition has also allowed me to upgrade to things I really enjoy, that fit properly, or that allow me to do a better job.

Shopping Golightly said...

Anonymous,

Very interesting thought. I think you've moved to a good place.

Saver Queen,

As always, excellent insight.

Summer said...

Well said and well done. And well timed too; I'm about to go through my closit and get rid of a bunch of stuff myself. Like anon, part of the reason I thrift is so that if I make purchasing mistakes, I can let them go easily. I have regretted donating exactly two things in my life.

Theresa said...

Great post. I think it is wonderful that Americans receive a tax deduction for items donated to charities. In Canada, only monetary donations get a tax receipt. I always give to the local thrift store and am thoughtful to only give what I would want to receive, clean clothes, quality goods. Hope things get better for your family soon.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to disagree on this one. I am an organizing nut and can't stand clutter, so I understand the need to sort/purge, but that table sounds like it was a one of a kind piece. I think when your daughters are older you'll regret letting go of this one.

Shopping Golightly said...

Anonymous,

Ah but the thrift gods work in wonderful ways. I gave your comment some thought as I went to the thrift store today, and there it was, another table quite similar to the one I donated in the window.

So much cool furniture goes through thrift stores. I sadly pass up gorgeous antiques often because I do not have room for them. It's the same with cashmere for $5.

Jennifer M. said...

Awesome reminder. Thank you! We all have items that we aren't using that could go to someone in need.