Downsizing: How Do I Decide What to Keep?

Downsizing from a large house to a retirement community can be confusing, and overwhelming. The two lifestyles are so different and it can be hard to imagine what all of the changes will mean in day-to-day terms.

Let’s look at how one person, we’ll call her Lois (not her real name), decided what to take from her kitchen and the reasoning behind her decision.

Lois loved to entertain, and she had all of the supplies to do it, and to do it well. Her dining room cabinets held multiple sets of fine china, serving platters, holiday plates, and chafing dishes. Her kitchen held pans, pie pans and cookie sheets, a sizeable collection of stainless steel cookware and several sets of flatware.

One of the reasons that Lois was moving was so that she wouldn’t have to keep up with cooking three meals a day. She planned to eat dinner in the community dining room.*

Even though she didn’t have as much energy, she still might want to entertain sometimes. If she didn’t take any of these supplies with her, would she be giving up cooking and baking for the rest of her life?

What about Thanksgiving? She had always made the big Thanksgiving dinner. And what about her great-grandson’s birthday? She wanted to bake a cake for him like she had for each of her other children and grandchildren.

When she thought about it, she realized that what she liked the most was sharing time with the people she loved. And she could still do that, without having to exhaust herself with days of cooking before the event. Maybe she would actually take her daughter up on her offer to do holiday dinners.

In the end she decided to bring four place settings, her coffee maker, toaster, a couple of sauce pans, and a frying pan. It was hard to let go all of those things. It felt like the end of an era.

As it turned out, the next Thanksgiving, Lois still cooked Thanksgiving dinner. But this time she did it in her daughter’s kitchen with family members pitching in. And she still got to eat from the holiday plates. They looked just as cheerful in daughter’s dining room as they had looked all of those years in her old house.

*Remember that when moving to a retirement community, much of your socializing will take place in common rooms with other residents. Most communities also have a private dining room that you can reserve for events such as family dinners and birthday parties, and where the community does the cooking and clean-up for you. Therefore, you won’t need to keep a large stock of entertaining supplies and, you might possibly even be able to let go of that china cabinet.

Copyright © Moving Forward, Inc. 2010



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