If your family home is filled with many happy memories of relatives, friends or events, there may be a tendency to view the home as a “Memory Museum”, helping the family recall those good times. However, that can be a stumbling block when it is time to step into the future.
In what ways is a family home like a museum? A museum is a building containing a collection of “stuff” that is always in the same location, is preserved, identified and of varying importance to different people, somewhat like a home. If you compared the contents of your family home now as opposed to the contents a year ago, you probably wouldn’t see a lot of difference. It would likely have the same furniture, pictures, and collections of stuff. The main difference between a museum and a home is that there is a direct personal connection with the contents of your home, whereas a museum is impersonal. Unless the museum contains items from the recent past, there is usually no direct connection to the contents, only a historical one. The direct connection to the contents of our home represents our memories.
Of course, our memories are “inside our head” but they are often triggered by things or rooms in our home. Our senses act as pathways to memories, helping us reach our memories instantly. Most of our memories are visual as we tend to recall the past by what we see in our home. Some memories can be triggered by other senses such as smell and hearing. The aroma of pine trees near our home, flowers in our garden or the sound of a neighbour’s children laughing in their backyard are examples of these senses at work.
Furthermore, it is the combination of the space (rooms) and stuff that make up your collection of memories. If your rooms were totally empty or if the all the stuff was moved to a new location and placed in the same arrangement, the memories would probably not be as strong. Preserving the status quo can create some natural internal resistance to downsizing since we don’t want to do anything to disturb the appearance of our rooms and disturb our pleasant memories.
Here are some suggestions on how to take the memories with you and leave the museum behind. Respect those memories and strengthen them while making progress on moving ahead by downsizing.
1. Record a video story of each room
Depending on the size of your family and the importance of memories of home to your family, you may wish to record a video walk-through of each room in your home, narrating as you do so. One person could take care of the video and one or more of you could do the narration. This would be even more effective if there are children in the family who could add their perspective. You don’t need an expensive video camera to do this since most smartphones have video features built-in.
2. Photograph each room as it is and take individual photos of important items.
It is quick and easy to take an overall photo of each room as is. The most significant items could warrant their own photo.
3. Digitize your existing photos
If you have bulky photo albums of printed photos, you can save a lot of space and help preserve those photos for following generations by converting them to digital images. There are usually a number of local companies that offer this service. Just do a search for “photo scanning” to find them.
4. Pass on items of family importance to other family members
One of the best ways of preserving family memories is to keep the related items in the family. That way the items are still within in the control of the family for subsequent use or sharing. I just gave a collection of my dad’s antique sheet-music to my niece for her to use and pass on as she wishes. You probably have many examples of your own.
5. Use specialized storage for fragile or significant items
If you have an item that could be easily damaged and is particularly meaningful to the family, consider storing or moving it separately from your other possessions. This is especially true if you intend to use public storage units as a transition plan for your move. Your precious item might not have large monetary value but it may require temperature control, humidity control or specialized packaging to protect it. Examples include fabric items, musical instruments, and delicate glassware.
What would you do to keep your family memories alive?
Enter your feedback below in the “Leave a reply” text box.
Find out how to keep in touch with Downsizing Help by clicking on Subscription Choices in the top menu bar. A new post is released every Sunday at 2 p.m. EST.
Unless otherwise credited, all posts are happily authored with a quill pen …
Paul Ferri, Broker, ASA (Accredited Senior Agent)
RE/MAX Unique Inc. Brokerage*, Toronto, Canada
*Each office independently owned and operated