March 25, 2007
Okay, maybe life isn't a yard sale, but I liked the sound of that, and I just organized a nice big yard sale yesterday and sold about $200 worth of stuff I needed to get rid of, including three chairs, some pots and pans, and lots of old dishes. The leftovers are sitting on my front porch waiting for me to take them off to the Thrift Shop as a donation.
Sometimes you just look at your stuff and you say, "Why?" which may be one of the ways life is a yard sale. Somebody gave you something you didn't really love, but your love for the giver caused you to hold on to the object. Years went by and the giver went out of your life but the object stayed. For a while it was nice to have a reminder..."I'll never forget that afternoon when you gave me this little teapot," or, "That costume jewelry was my mother's," or "I'm glad that bastard is out of my life, but at least I still have this wine-bottle-holder." In time the memory fades, or perhaps sours, and the object becomes just one more item in a carton of unused stuff in the garage. When yard sale time comes, the whole box goes on the market.
Some items remain in the storage locker of your life, no matter how many yard sales you have. You take them out every time and decide you're not ready to cut them out. But eventually almost every little thing has to go.
My sister and I have the big one to plan when we finally clean out our mother's house for the last time. Do we keep the rose plates our grandmother treasured, even though we never even knew our grandmother? Already we've begun dividing the mementos Mama always called "family pieces." Some of them we actually want to hold onto. Some are almost a guilt trip. For the final analysis we'll call in a professional estate planner who will tell us if any of the things is really worth anything, and then we'll decide which to keep and which to part with.
When the yard sale is in progress, buyers always haggle to get your prices down, and you have to be prepared for that. They always begin to show up at least two hours before the appointed time of the sale, to get you off guard and possibly to get the price lowered for the best items. We learned yesterday not to allow any early viewers; you must have time to put a sale plan into action. And when somebody makes an offer of a dollar for something you have put at $10 tag on, it's useless to say, "But I paid $50 for that!" Either go down to eight, or forget it. It doesn't matter how much you originally paid for anything. After the sale, it's going to the thrift shop or to the dump anyway.
After a little practice, giving a yard sale gets to be fun, like life. Know what to expect, get over your sentimental attachments, and put your stuff out on a table. Then see what happens.