Once I started thinking about it, it was hard to stop. All the stuff you surround yourself with that’s necessary for a comfortable life reflects your choices and tastes, which may often not be the same as those of your children. We put so much value on the things we own (and the effort it took for us to get them), so how can our kids not find them just as desirable and important? So, if our children don’t want them, does this mean the end of the line for all of our stuff when we downsize, or worse, expire? And what about all the stuff that we never asked for that has been left to us by our own parents?
I’ve asked some friends about this and none of them have really given it much thought. What should they do with all their stuff? Responses typically fall into four popular choices. One, sell everything at their next garage sale. Two, check out values and possibly auction or sell it all off through the eBay marketplace, Craigslist, et al. For the most valuable of items, the third choice was to consider finding an appropriate auction house that could get the most money by letting someone else market them. And finally, just toss it all in the trash.
The one avenue for disposal that’s never mentioned is donating items to the local historical society. If your society maintains a public museum, then it’s all the more likely that they will want to accept and display the pieces of your lifetime, as it will become part of the story of your family and town that others will appreciate for generations to come. Many times, the things that you donate assist local historians as they piece together other details that had been mysteries to them due to missing information. Items that tell the story of what people used to use as they went about their daily lives in the early or mid 20thcentury will hold interest to a group of schoolchildren exploring the society’s museum in the 21st century! We are living history now, all of us! Every day is another day in history, and the items we own tell the story… photos from school, diaries and journals, games and clothing… It’s all part of yesterday and today, and the people of tomorrow will find it fascinating.
I don’t know all the details of the latest changes to the income tax code, but I think that the previous advantages of giving donations have been greatly reduced, so don’t do it for expected monetary return. However, think about the immense good that you’re doing for future generations. And think about the gift that you’re giving to your community. That’s what giving back is truly all about.