This past Thanksgiving, my family and I met in Florida to celebrate the holiday with friends and to face the daunting task of getting my parents’ house ready for sale. With my father’s recent passing some ten years after my mom and full time live in help in their home, my children and I spent the week on an emotional roller-coaster which stopped at least three times a day at the Good Will store. It was back breaking and shredder breaking work and it re-affirmed to me and mine the responsibility we all have to manage our own “stuff” when we can, for when we can’t, our families will inherit much more than the assets left behind.
Unfortunately, in today’s world, all personal information that is on any document must be shredded. We filled bag after bag from several large file cabinets with past bills, papers and other assorted material that didn't need saving and reduced the important information about family history, wills, death certificates and honors into one small file box. Then came the photo albums. My dear daughter-in-law, Terry, took on the task of shredding hundreds of duplicate photos and packing photo albums to keep, painstakingly going through each and every one.
Meanwhile, my son, Jason, was going the E-bay route for some of the dishes, glassware and other items that were already duplicates in the family. Clothing and furniture was dispensed to worthy organizations and the house that my parents joyfully moved into some 35 years ago was looking sadder and sadder.
I re-lived my whole past life in a few short days, alternately laughing and crying. I know one thing – I could never have done it without my children, and I then made a resolution for the coming year. While I thought I had put my life in order pretty well, I resolved to lighten my load and theirs in any way I can.
What about you? This is the time of the year when families get together and celebrate. Perhaps it’s also a good time to talk about some hard topics – illness, infirmity, death. What happens to your things or those of your parents? What happens to you? Have you made your wishes known? Do you have a will? Have you made provisions for health care? Are your business effects in order? Does your family know where your bank accounts or other assets are? If something should happen to you, will your family be left to navigate a quagmire of issues as well as deal with their grief?
January is designated as National Clutter Control month. I give an annual seminar for WALK radio on this important topic. I talk about ways to combat and control clutter in your home and life. Part of that is to organize personal papers and other important documents, as well as decorating with an eye to providing appropriate storage in every room. No one can decorate around clutter. The end result of a well-designed home is creating a safe, well ordered and serene haven for you and your family. The time will come for all of us when we can no longer singularly handle our own lives. While we still can, we should make our choices known and help those we love to do the same.
At this holiday season and for the New Year to come, a good resolution can be to give the gift of “paying it forward.” Provide a road map for passing the torch to your future generations. Fill it with happy remembrances and less stress, for we all must deal with the inevitable. So to all of you from the Weinstein Group and the Weinstein family, best wishes for a holiday season filled with the goodness of being together and the strength to face a new year with resolve and a positive spirit.