We downsized just over a year ago. We moved from a 4-bedroom house with over 2,600 SF to a 2-bedroom house with exactly 1,008 SF. This was Step 1 in a long-term plan to simplify our life. To have less to maintain and more time and money to travel the country…and even the world. I realize I have a bit of an inner gypsy who is dying to get out and so far, my husband’s OK with that.
The big house was more than what we needed after the kids moved out. It had served us well over the years and provided a place for the kids to hang out with friends and for us to host treasured family gatherings. We have many great memories of that big house on Wickens Street…full of the space we needed for that time in our lives. The first floor was a mostly open space…the Living Room opened into the Dining Room, separated only by a half wall. This space flowed into the Dining Room and then a large, dream kitchen with an abundance of space in the cabinets and pantry. Abundance. That is what we had. We were fortunate to have enough room to be able to keep everything I brought from my kitchen and everything my new husband Jim brought from his! Abundance.
Fast Forward several years to when the Tiny House bug first bit me and Jim saw the excitement in my eyes: his first response was something like “uuummmm…..we have 3 colanders….let’s just start there. Which colander would go into the Tiny?” As I thought about that question for a bit, I realized the answer was “none of them….we don’t own a colander that would be right for a tiny house”. The colanders I had brought with me to our marriage were old, cheap, and plastic. They were used for different purposes but either one of them would take up too much precious space in a tiny house. The colander Jim brought is a beautiful stainless steel model that I love….but, again, too big for tiny. This is the only colander that would make it through the downsize. We took only the one that was beautiful and well made. I’m still trying to figure out what kind of colander we will need for the Tiny but beauty, function, and quality are the most important things to consider for any ‘stuff’ that deserves a place in our lives.
As a part of the move into a much smaller kitchen, there were many decisions to be made along the way. Some were easy. Some were hard. Some hit me in the gut like a pro boxer. So much of what filled that big house was super easy for me to let go of. In general, ‘stuff’ has a tendency to make me feel a bit claustrophobic. However, I was shocked at the physiological reaction I had to the idea of giving up some of our things. The two big ones in the kitchen were the fine china and the silver. Both given to me by women who I loved deeply and had been very important parts of my life. I realized that I was more attached to my feelings for these women than I was to the this fine china and silver that I had rarely, if ever, used. I knew that intellectually. I knew through my practice of Aparigraha (a Sanskrit word that translates to non-attachment) that holding on to things can actually cause suffering. But the gut punch I felt when I considered giving these particular things away was more than I could handle. On the other hand, I had no room to store this stuff at the new house. What was I going to do? The only times I had used the fine china Granny Annie had given me were during those family gatherings when there were only as many people coming as I had place settings for. And I couldn’t remember ever once using the silver my Grandma Lil had given me over 20 years ago. I knew we had no room for things used this infrequently. But how could I part with them. Major. Gut. Punch.
Then I remembered how my other grandma always put her new things up and save them for “good”. While she puttered around the house in her ratty nightgowns, there were several brand new ones with tags on them she had saved for “Good”. For “Good”…..what is that, anyway??? I’ve never seen “Good” on a calendar and I’m not sure when she thought it would arrive. She died with gift boxes under her bed and in her closet of nice, new things that she was always saving for some other time. I remember thinking it was kind of crazy that she had never enjoyed these gifts her loved ones had bought for her…they just took up space in her house. And for what? “Good”? When is this “Good” time coming that she would use them? For her, it seems as if it never came. So, if I thought she was crazy for not using these nice things…..aren’t I also crazy for not using the fine china?
And so it was: we got rid of the regular dishes…we got rid of the regular silverware. And for the past year, my husband and I have been using fine china and silver for every meal. I absolutely love it! I think fondly of Harriet Ann and my Grandma Lil when I eat….and, surprisingly, also when I do the chore of washing these precious gifts. What a bonus that has been. Weaving memories of these important women into a time that used to feel like work has been especially transformative for me. We’ve only broken one dish….and only had to polished the silver one time in that year, so I’d say the down side to regular has been fairly negligible. I also love that it makes every meal feel a little more special. Because, in the end, each meal with a loved one is quite special….and is, in fact, “Good”.
I’d like you to consider what it is that you’ve got tucked away for “Good”. Think about unpacking it and enjoying it today.