My Grandmother's Soup Tureen
Over 20 years ago, I inherited a soup tureen and two candy bowls from my grandmother. I have never used them, but I love the memories they evoke. But, they are taking up room in my modest kitchen. How long shall I keep them? If I try to give them away, who would want them?
To help with perspective on these questions, I reread a talk given by David J. Ekerdt, Director of the Gerontology Center and Professor of Sociology at the University of Kansas. Prof. Ekerdt leads the Household Moves Project: Research about downsizing possessions in later life at the Life Span Institute.
Here is just a fascinating tidbit from his talk at the recent NASMM - National Association of Senior Move Managers conference.
David Ekert: For several years, I have led a team that is studying possessions and aging, in particular downsizing when folks move from larger-to-smaller quarters in later life. If elders can do this, it can free them to continue to live independently, and in more suitable housing. Even if they don’t move, it can provide peace of mind about the future.
In my field, gerontology, we use the metaphor of the convoy to talk about all the people—the changing cast of characters--who accompany us from birth to death. We call this a social convoy that supports us across time. So, too, the body of one’s possessions, at any one time and as borne through time, can be called a “convoy of material support.”
People develop emotional relations with their things (we want to give them a good home, or we can’t stand to look at them). Like social convoys, we maintain this resource for its actual as well as potential supportiveness.
Social and material convoys share one other feature: the person at their center may regard the convoy members with ambivalence -- the stock and store of one’s belongings can be an achievement, a delight, and comfort -- but they may also be a burden.
Possessions furnish life-course careers as workers, partners, parents, property owners, and cultural participants.
In sum, these things, these belongings furnish and express the course of our lives.
In later life, three additional dimensions attend the material convoy :
In academic writing about consumers, and households, and possessions, “conduits” are all of the means by which possessions could flow out of a household.
Are you overwhelmed by your belongings? Is it time to sell, donate, disperse and discard. Judith Moves You can patiently and sensitively help.
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