I love Thanksgiving. It reminds me of my grandmothers, and family, and lots of amazing food, and playing games around the table.
It’s the one holiday where the focus is on my favorite things (did I mention food and family?)
Our house, normally inhabited by 3 people and no critters (that we know about), was filled to the brim with 12 humans and 5 canines. We turned the office into a guest room (gotta love a blow up mattress* as the guest bed - perfect for multi-use space!), moved the double bed from Julian’s room into Bee’s and turned Julian’s room into a dormitory for 5 kids, added pillows, towels, blankets, and dog beds into every corner.
On Thursday, Thanksgiving day itself, we added 6 people and 2 more dogs to the mix. That was a total of 18 at the table; 7 dogs milling around underfoot.
If anyone went hungry, they were not trying hard enough.
Amazingly, there were no squabbles of any kind!
And on Friday, when the dishwasher was emptied and all of the kids were off Black Friday shopping, instead of putting the china and the silver away, we packed it up to hitch a ride to Vermont.
While it may seem bizarre to be talking about downsizing tips in a post that starts out by talking about hosting 18 people (and 7 dogs) for Thanksgiving dinner, it’s really not.
Downsizing takes both mental and physical work.
This Thanksgiving, we celebrated the end of an era (no more big turkey dinner gatherings at this house for us!) in style. Part of downsizing is saying thank you to things you love and allowing them to go (I got this idea from the Marie Kondo book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up), and while I doubt she was really thinking of changing homes to living on a small boat, I adore the concept. It’s way too easy to think that downsizing is in just getting rid of stuff or sacrificing things. The mental part of saying THANK YOU is huge.
Here, then, is an exercise in downsizing you can start long before you pack boxes to move onto the boat. Celebrate, say thank you, and release. It might be to space, or the idea of yourself as the host - but downsizing includes noticing and acknowledging the last times for things.
Just as important? Mourning when you let something go.
It was pretty weird to pack boxes of dishes; it’s still weird to open cupboards and drawers and see nothing where those items used to live.
Three boxes (and a gorgeous wooden salad bowl) went in my parents’ car to Vermont, where they’ll live in the basement in a corner until they can go up to the house by the lake in the Northeast Kingdom. Three boxes of things we want to keep but won’t need to use and can’t practically take with us.
If we did not have this house to furnish, I’m not honestly sure what we’d wind up keeping, other than the few priceless family pieces like that china and silver, both of which were passed down by my grandmother. Still, taking advantage of every car that heads north between now and next summer means we can chip away at the task of emptying this house out.
This Thanksgiving we welcomed. We cooked, and we played, and we slept and ate and laughed and celebrated. We packed and said goodbye.
We started the downsizing, both mentally and physically.
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