He said, “I Don’t Want the Chicken”

I’m helping my Dad downsize. He will probably be moving to smaller living quarters in the not too distant future. The ‘weeding’ process isn’t easy for him. He has a strong attachment to just about everything old in his apartment. His bonds to the distant past grow stronger, as the memories of the near past fade.

If he is willing to let me remove anything, it is only because he is very certain that a family member will take ownership of the item and treasure it as much as he does. Everything I have carted off so far is now safely stored in The Car Guys Garage, pending resettlement somewhere. The pile is fluid. Some of the things I put there last week must now go back to Dad’s place – a change of heart and mind.

As I was getting ready to haul another load down to my car yesterday, he suddenly said, “Take the chicken. I really don’t want that chicken.”

552-rooster-portugal-27

That surprised me. The chicken, (more accurately a Portuguese Good Luck Rooster, I suppose) sat in a place of prominence in his living room. I don’t know how he acquired it, but it was clear from the tone in his voice that he would be glad to see it go.

Since I know someone who might want the Rooster,  I put the bird on the handy catch-all ledge in my kitchen. A row of sharp knives is nearby – a rather appropriate reminder to the bird of the historical method of dispatching fowl, should the bird need to be kept in line.

As I look at all the ‘treasures’ that reside in my house, I think about which ones I would want to keep till ‘death us do part.’ What will be my ‘chicken’ when my children are carting some of my material memories out the door?

We all need some of the material things that provide continuity to our lives by always being there and always being the same.
– Andy Rooney –

Are you still in the accumulating stage of life, or have you started to downsize?

46 thoughts on “He said, “I Don’t Want the Chicken”

  1. Fun post. Thanks for sharing this, it does make me wonder about all the proverbial-chickens I have.
    I like your rooster, he’s a handsome fellow. I think he would bless anyone with a smile, which now-a-days a smile is something that sometimes takes a lot of luck to find.
    I’m not much interesting in accumulating stuff… well except for craft supplies. Even my interest in holiday decor grows slimmer every year. I have oodles of stuff that will be easily given or thrown away… well except for craft supplies. 😉

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    • Thanks for asking if you can reblog this post. Yes, you may. (Several of my posts were reblogged a while back by people who do nothing but reblog other people’s work. They didn’t add any content of their own. I’ve also heard from several bloggers who reblogged something, only to discover the item they reblogged was actually ‘stolen’ from a major magazine!)

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      • OUCH! I would never do that. I appreciate the work every blogger puts in to their work. I love to share work when it dovetails into my message. I also like to help expose other bloggers to new writers. I say sharing helps me help others and helps you. Thanks!! Have an amazing day. I will put this on the schedule. “-)

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  2. Part of the process of moving to Hawaii involved getting rid of pretty much everything we owned, accumulated through the span of 40+ years together (and I had some things from before we met).

    It was one of the hardest things we’ve ever done, and we still occasionally question it (emotionally) before reaffirming (logically) why we made the decision.

    If one is interested in doing it, the hardest part is looking at any given item not through the eyes of you as an owner, but as a disinterested bystander . . . meaning, what will people who survive you think of this stuff.

    One thing that helped — at least for me — was going to estate sales and walking through piles of stuff that were someone’s treasures but that I would not pay even a dollar to own. Try looking at your things the same way, removing whatever memory it triggers from the equation. Remember that you are not selling your memories . . . just some stuff.

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    • That is great advice!
      We went through a fairly significant downsize when our cabin was destroyed in the flood. We had about 4 hours before we had to evacuate, and it was interesting to see which ‘treasures’ made it into the car with us, and which items didn’t make the cut.

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  3. A great blog!
    Downsizing is an issue most of us in the western hemisphere will have to face. We (the baby boomer generation) are the great collectors, accumulators, and sometimes hoarders. We have those special items passed down from our parents, grandparents and even great grandparents. We want to honour our ancestors’ items and we have had the pleasure of collecting our own. Our generation has had more disposable income than our parents and consequently we have more to discard. When I look around our house my knick knacks remind me of vacations, transfers, experiences. and family heirlooms. I do not relish the task of downsizing as it is an indicator of an ending. My siblings and I have had a few discarding events with our parents. None of them have been without incident. I feel sorry for my only child. Hopefully, my partner and I will be proactive and eliminate our accumulations before our demise. However, I sincerely doubt it!

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    • Thanks for your comments, Joy.
      The Car Guy and I have already started the downsizing. Part of that came as a result of what was hauled to the cabin (and lost in the flood), and some of our loot has migrated to the Prickly Place down south. I keep telling the kids that there are companies that specialize in ‘Estate Sales’, and that would be a ideal solution to dispose of all the stuff here at the Red House!

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  4. I’ve downsized to what will surely be my last house. But I’ve dragged in a lot of stuff from the last place that really needs to go. It’s not really that I can’t let it go. It’s just that I’ve been really lazy getting rid of it.This little place would look a lot better if the clutter were cleared.

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    • My dad dragged a lot of stuff from his last place too. We helped with his last downsizing, but had no idea how many trips he made to his new little place!
      I’m starting to look at my possessions more carefully, and asking what memories they hold. It is the memories these things will evoke that will be important if my own grasp on memory ever starts to fade.

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  5. I’m an habitual downsizer (not a word according to WP). If it ain’t gettin used, it goes. Of course, that’s only to make room for my latest purchase, usually some tech toy.

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  6. My husband and I recently moved from the city to the country. We packed twice – once to prepare the city house for sale (“Declutter and depersonalize” the realtor told me over and over again) and the second time for the actual move. We got rid of a LOT of ‘stuff’ as we went through the process twice (we even hired a dumpster for the larger items), but as I unpack and sort through the boxes still stacked in the basement, I realize we barely scratched the surface. I know my kids shudder every time they look at my various ‘collections’ (dolls, silver, reminders of events from my life) but some are too filled with memories to toss away (yet!) I suspect I will gradually throw out or donate some of the contents of the boxes I haven’t yet opened (if I don’t need what’s in there, why am I keeping it?!?!?) but disposing of the rest will inevitably fall to my kids (payback, I suppose, for me having to get rid of all the stuffed animals, Lego, and other miscellany of their childhood that seemed to find its way into my storage room at the city house!)

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    • Margo, your story sounds familiar! We were overseas for a few years, and when we came home I was faced with the boxes that had been in storage, and the boxes that we shipped home. It took quite a while to sort through them all. Eventually, most of the stuff that was in storage went to Goodwill or some such place. Really, if I hadn’t used it or missed it in 5 years, why was I keeping it!?

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  7. I am still accumulating, but not as much as I used to – in fact I am trying VERY hard not to accumulate anything at all, but that is difficult. We are not downsizing, but I am aware that one day we probably will, so I am trying to be strong and have regular clear outs (I might only clear one or two things, but it’s a start!).

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  8. In our family, we had a pink-checkered chicken that kept making the rounds every Christmas. It was a treat to see who would wind up with it each year, usually it accompanied a bottle of wine to ease the blow. But one year it failed to appear. My niece said her kids couldn’t bear to part with it, so begged her to keep it.
    I told her I was happy for the chicken. It found its forever home.

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    • What fun!
      Our family had a traveling ‘Fridge Pig’. We’d smuggle it into the victim’s fridge. Next time the fridge door opened, the light would cause the Pig to ‘oink’ a few times.
      I don’t know where the Pig ended up eventually – it sure hasn’t been in my fridge for a long time!

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  9. We’re just beginning this process with my mother. Luckily she has decided that there is no longer any hurry to get out of the house. (Last Christmas she announced she wanted the house on the market in September and she was going to be overseas from March to June. Needless to say, it didn’t happen.) Not only is there a house full of stuff but also a very large shed. Mind you, I need to have a ruthless cull in my own house…..

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    • If a bunch of your mom’s stuff ends up at your house, it might be the incentive to get ruthless!
      My husband’s dad is also getting ready to downsize. I expect he will move from his home into a senior’s apartment next summer. At least by then we’ll have my dad sorted out!

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  10. We are in the process of downsizing and retiring. We will be moving out of state. I have told the kids that they need to stake their claims, the grandkids were told the same. The grandkids are at the age or nearing the age of getting their own places. I’ve told them…”ask before you buy. I probably have one of those” whatever it may be. They were all skittish at first, saying I want that, but as yard sales began and things have started to be sold, they’re beginning to ask if I have this or that. Our goal is to leave here with one truckload, not a semi-truck. Love your post. Good luck with Dad…been there, done that.

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    • Good luck with the one truckload!
      When we finally move out of this place, I’m just going to take the stuff we want, then call one of those Estate Sale auction places to handle all the stuff that is left!

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  11. My siblings and I went through this with my mother, first making decisions about the items in her apartment and storage spaces (yes, there were two of them) after she moved into an Alzheimer’s care center and then making decisions about her remaining possessions after her death. Some items had sentimental value for family members and others could be used by her grandchildren, but in the end, we had to say we can’t keep everything.
    I hope it isn’t rude and against the ‘rules’ of commenting on another person’s blog, but here’s what I wrote after going through my own stuff last summer: https://thesearentgrayhairs.com/2015/08/16/stuff-about-stuff/

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    • I enjoyed reading your experiences! The biggest challenge I have right now is finding homes for this stuff. The dump is the my last choice for disposing of things. The family already has lots of ‘stuff’. Everyone, I expect, is breathing a sigh of relief that, by default, this is my job. In time, this task will be done, and I can go back to my own downsizing.

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    • Melissa, is there a way to comment on your blog? I just saw the one entitled “blue” and am enamored with the photography. Thanks… Peta

      Margie, I hope you don’t mind me commenting here on your blog.. 🙂

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      • No problem. Click on her title ‘Blue’ to open the post. Then scroll down to just below the ‘Like This’ section. There will be a small grey ‘Leave a comment’ after ‘Posted in photographs’.

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  12. We are definitely in serious downsizing mode… actually ever since the last of our four sons finished high school and we sold or gave everything away and moved to Nicaragua, Central America for six years. Then two years ago we once again went through the same process (definitely not easy, but definitely worth while) and became nomadic moving and traveling through SE Asia with only two small bags for my husband and my self. I came to realize that in the end it is all stuff and that for me I would rather have experiences than stuff. Of course we do get attached to stuff, but I have a lot of lessons in disengaging from that attachment and moving on.

    I really do enjoy your blog. Hope you swing by ours, would love to have you as a reader….

    Peta

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    • Wow – you really did downsize! I’m not sure how long I’d last with two small bags and one husband…
      Your comment didn’t include a link, so I’ll have to go surfing to see if I can find our blog!

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  13. I’ve been through this with my mom’s stuff and I know how hard it is.

    Here we are, several years later, and occasionally one of us will question ‘whatever happened to ….?’ If I could do it again, I’d do it differently.
    I like your approach to not get rid of things right away. In hindsight, I wish we had simply packed stuff up and stored them away for a couple of years – making decisions later when it wasn’t so emotional anymore.

    I don’t think I’m a pack rat, nor is my husband. We routinely go through stuff and cull what’s not useful to us anything. Having said that, I know we have too much stuff.

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