Polly’s Donations

Sometimes we make progress in clearing out a space, only to have someone else fill it up again.

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Do you have relatives who try to give you their stuff?

25 thoughts on “Polly’s Donations”

    1. Thanks, Janine. We have fun with Polly, and hopefully people can identify with her struggles. I know many of my clients are trying to clear out their own stuff, and then a box or two arrives from Grandma and we have to start all over again:)

    1. We didn’t name Mom, but maybe we will if she reappears! There is actually a word for that curly-q in illustration, but I don’t know it. Emily Evans is terrific and we have so much fun working together.

  1. Oh, wow! These days I AM one of those relatives. I’ve been clearing out our family home for 56+ years and there has been LOTS of stuff to let go of. I’ve used every method available to me including selling, donating, trashing, recycling, and GIVING to family and friends. So I really relate to this week’s “Polly” cartoon. Certainly, from the perspective of letting go, it always feels better and is easier to do so when that thing gets “safe passage.” By that, I mean that it goes to someone that will use and appreciate it.And it’s especially true when we perceive those things as having some value (emotional or otherwise.) However, recipients of the stuff become the new owners. And as the new owners, they have the option to do with it what they want…including giving it away or letting it go by other means. So once WE let go, we no longer have a say in what happens next. And in the best scenarios, that “thing” gets a second life with someone that will use, value and care for it.
    Linda Samuels recently posted…How to Joyfully Embrace the Human Side of OrganizingMy Profile

    1. I’m absolutely delighted to hear you make this point. When you give a gift, it no longer belongs to you! Perhaps accepting that family heirloom feels “right” in the moment, with an essence of its owner lingering about it like a favorite perfume. However, if a few years down the line, you realize you actually don’t use it or it doesn’t fit your taste, it is okay to pass it along to someone else. I have multiple clients who keep getting stuff from relatives. Many of clients are thirty-somethings, and much of what shows up is their stuff… items saved from their growing up years. The constant parade of belongings and emotions is what makes this process important!

  2. I have beautiful stuff that belonged to my parents and grandparents that I know the next generation won’t want, even though it was considered special or even valuable in its day (e.g. Royal Doulton teapot, real silverware, etc.) I get that.

    But it’s the more personal items that make me sad. Although I’ve jokingly said that when I’m gone they can just toss my “treasure box” in the trash, it’s hard to accept that the memorabilia I’ve cherished for most of my life is of no value whatsoever to anyone.

    1. That is very hard, Janet. Knowing that someone who knows you/cares about you wants your items makes it easier to let something go. I understand where Polly’s Mom is coming from!! I have a client right now who is single with no children, and as we go through her things, we are enjoying the chance to share the stories “one last time.” I also see the younger set trying to make space for everything that grandparents and parents want to pass down. Depending on how it is handled, there can be a lot of guilt put on someone who tries to respectfully decline. Personal items and memorabilia are definitely the hardest. I think a few items, with associated stories written out to accompany them, can be a wonderful family heirloom. It is often the stories that bring our treasures to life.

      1. Yes – it’s really all about the stories, isn’t it?

        I’ve thought that I should go through my treasure box with the kids sometime so I can tell them the story behind everything. It will then be up to them to decide what to do with them, and even if it’s to throw them out, at least they’ll know more about me and my life than they do now.

  3. Polly is terrific! About 30 years ago my brother and I were tasked with distributing my father’s furniture. We put into storage basic good, classic furniture that we just knew my sisters (they were still teenagers at the time) would need when they eventually set up their own homes. It felt really good to think we were providing for our sisters. I believe they did indeed use this furniture to begin with. I agree with you and Linda. It’s the underlying notion that you (the giver) has successfully parted with the belonging. And that the recipient may now do as they wish with the gift.

    1. I’m loving the conversation on this one. I think it all comes down to communication. Does the recipient want the item? Is the giver clear in allowing the recipient to part with it in the future? I’ve been saving a few furniture pieces and a bunch of memorabilia for my daughter. However, at the age of 24 and with a wedding on the horizon, she is still living in 400 square feet, and not interested. As long as I can store it, I will hold onto it. But if I downsize, I think it will either have to go to her or be passed on elsewhere.

  4. I totally agree with this image. I feel that the “in-between” generation has to deal with this all the time. We receive things from our parents then we have to make a choice Keep or Donate. I found that many of my clients would keep the items for a while even though they didn’t want the items in the first place. All this because they didn’t want to hurt their parents’ feelings. And all of this is out of love. It’s amazing how love can make us deny our own wants. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Yes, I think it often comes down to not wanting to hurt someone’s feeling and love. For some of my clients, they have not only items coming in from their parents, but also from grandparents and aunts and uncles… it can be a lot. Some people even live with furniture or decor they don’t like because they feel like they should. If we can have an open dialog, and try to remove the emotion, we have the best chance to honoring one another and keeping our spaces working efficiently.

    1. Uh oh.. guilty as charged? At least Polly reminds us to ask before passing things down. I am closer to being in your stage as well. The only problem is that my daughter lives in 400 square feet, so I haven’t been able to get her to take very much:)

  5. Love the Polly Cartoons. This is so true. Ii will keep this in mind when i think I should give some things to my own daughters!

    1. Good idea! I alway say that open communication is the best way to handle these situations. Does the relative want the item? Do they have space? After all, it would be a shame if a desire to love each other leads to guilt or remorse.

  6. I keep telling my children that one of the three of them need to create a presidential library so we have some place to keep all the family “treasures.” I don’t think they’re taking me seriously, though. 🙂

  7. Pingback: Minimalism & Gifts | The Seana Method Organizing & Productivity

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