My Cabbage Patch Kids are comfortable where they are. That closet is the only home they’ve known since I stopped playing with them in 1987. How can I move them?
And who knows when acid-washed, fleece-lined denim jackets will be hot again — could be any day …
… or so I tell my parents when they get on my case to finish moving out of their house. Should I be ashamed? Probably. I’ll be 42 next month and have my own house about two miles from my parents’.
OK, fine, I should deal with my stuff.
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I hit the streets recently to find out if my parents are the only ones with a delinquent like me. Turns out, they’re not.
Apparently, parents trying to get grown children to take responsibility for mountains of belongings cluttering spare bedrooms, attics and basements is a rampant condition of the modern age.
Deb Callaway of Shawnee has four children between ages 40 and 50. She and her husband, Jim, moved into their house in 1991 when the kids were teenagers.
Her 44-year-old daughter has asked that we not use her name for this article. I feel for her on this.
Anonymous, we’ll call her, wouldn’t have left things behind at all, but what happened was that she moved back in for a while and collected the stuff people tend to collect, you know, just living. When she got her own place, it was too small to accommodate everything.
Callaway is OK with this for two reasons. One: She says this is the house she and her husband will die owning. The kids can collect their belongings now or then.
And two: “Out of sight, out of mind. If I can stick it back in the far corner of the basement, and I don’t have to see it, I don’t care what’s back in there. She can store an elephant if she wants to.”
When Callaway was in her 30s her mother gave her an ultimatum about clearing out: Take your junk or I’m dumping it. Callaway listened. But when she tried the same with Anonymous, it only brought tears and deadline extensions.
“It’s not worth upsetting her over it because it’s just stuff, and it’s an unfinished basement,” she said.
Cheryl Ball, on the other hand, is dealing with a different set of issues. Several years ago, in the space of about 11 months, her daughter Julie and both of her parents died, leaving behind Julie’s young daughter, Mikayla, and a mountain of items.
Ball, who lives in Lee’s Summit, says she wishes her other daughter Nancy would help her look through everything. However, Nancy lives in Florida, and her visits are short enough as it is, not to mention the emotions that go with such a sorting task.
The main items on Ball’s mind are the baby grand piano and a huge collection of photo albums.
Of the piano she says, “The girls wanted me to keep it, so I keep it.” Her mother bought it in the mid-1940s and taught Ball and both of her daughters to play on it.
Now Mikayla is learning to play the piano — Ball is teaching her. The 12-year-old has adopted her mother’s flute and piccolo and seems to have inherited her talent as well.
As for the photo albums, Ball says she can’t throw away pictures. “My mom was religious about putting things in albums.” But they’re taking up most of the closet space in her apartment.
What’s she to do?
Echoing Callaway, Ball says that sooner or later Nancy will have to deal with all of it. She’d really like the piano out in the near future, though. She has even thought of shipping it to Nancy but knows the cost would be exorbitant.
Kaki Speicher of Shawnee can offer some counsel about shipping large items.
She’s mother to four, ages 31 to 45. And before we get into the shipping stories, quick shoutout to Katie, the youngest Speicher, who rented a storage unit for her stuff before she moved to Taiwan recently. Nice work, Katie.
The Speichers will be moving to Florida in March, which means they’re anxious to deal with their other daughter Trinn’s large doll collection and son Greg’s Brio trains.
So Speicher packed the Madame Alexander dolls — a precursor to American Girl dolls — into three giant boxes and shipped them to Trinn, 42, in Houston. Before Speicher knew what hit her, the boxes were back on her doorstep, and she ended up paying for a round-trip ticket for them.
Trinn says she was never notified by the shipper that they had arrived. Katie to the rescue, though.
According to her mom, “Katie thinks it’s hysterical,” so she offered up some real estate in her storage unit for the dolls.
And lucky for Greg, 39, that he already happens to live in Florida. His Brio trains will ride along with all his parents’ other possessions. To his credit, he’d been telling his mother to get rid of them for years.
But she refused. “Being a mama, that’s part of my problem. I thought, someday he’ll change his mind. We just found out that in June he’s having a son,” Speicher says, smiling big.
My own father tells me that “in the final analysis, it’s really not a big deal, unless it’s turned into an unhealthy hoarding situation.” But he also notes that, “The longer you keep stuff, the higher the sentimental value grows, until these things become priceless in everybody’s minds.”
Little does he know that those Cabbage Patch dolls are priceless and that one day, when the style comes back around, I’ll be strutting my stuff in that acid-washed jacket.