Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Sometimes I start thinking and wondering why we have so much stuff. I'm not just talking about myself here, nearly everyone I know has a storage shed or even rent one. Is it because we don't have large barns. basements or attics to put in all in, like days gone by. I tend to watch hoarding shows and old movies. One thing strikes my interest when comparing the 30's and 40's to people of today. We have a bunch of stuff!

In the old era regular woman (not the social elite, they had everything) had:
A handful of clothes, maybe just enough to fill a trunk.
Two pairs of shoes, if they were that lucky.
One tube of lipstick and some face powder. They just had to powder their noses!
When the young ladies got married they didn't need a moving van to transport their stuff. Most were capable of carrying their stuff by hand. Most had all that they needed and no more than that. The essentials.

The have they grown.

When we moved 3 years ago, it took many many loads of a jam packed flatbed trailer to get all of our essentials relocated. AND I did some major throwing away while packing!

Back to the wondering phase... I wonder if the great depression has anything to do with our desire to have more? Lots of people had to sell what little they had just to survive and as times got better they replenished. BUT I think a good portion of those folks suffered emotional scars so deep that they passed on this compulsion to "have" onto their kids and so on.

I know my grandparents had very little in the 40's, their love, a child and the basic essentials. BUT over the decades my grandmother was on a constant receiving, acquiring and hoarding binge. To the point that in the 80's the attic, basement and half of the 2 car garage was full to the brim. Not to mention the rest of the house.

I also see this same pattern in my dad. His most common phrase..I might need it someday! I must have the extra washer, cause what if the one were using quits on us. Yeah that is my dad. LOL! You just never know when your going to need something and then you'll regret not having it. Soo even with their tiny budget they pay for storage.

I am also a victim of this "Have" syndrome. We have a storage unit out back and it is full of tools (his stuff) and such. One corner is portioned out for me and yes it is already full. I have debated on getting another one for some of the things in the house that need to go out. BUT then I think...Why? Why do I have stuff that I'm going to put outside and leave there for who knows how long?

Then I think about hubby's side of the family.

When Granny Faye (his grandmother) died hubby was told to go through the garage. All of his grandfathers things were in there and he had been dead since hubby was a child. All of his stuff was left there untouched for decades. It was kinda cool going through all that old stuff and coming across some treasures of his youth.

Then their is his own mother. She has 3 storage sheds, a full house and a 2 car garage that has never had room for a car.

Soo I sit here and wonder why do we have the need to buy, get, acquire and hoard it away in every nook, cranny or storage shed? What happened to just having what we really need?



mrsjsawyer said... [Reply to comment]

Firstly, I personal do not believe you 2 have too much stuff -- most people need a storage shed or 2 when they live in a manufactured home - because they have no garage. Secondly, I find your comparison to all the cumpultion spending/keeping to the Great Depression, very interesting, and could have some merit there. And lastly, you can always purge some belonging -- donate them or whatever, trust me -- it feels SO GOOD to purge some things.... I can use my garage now -- and I don't miss a thing! :o)

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

Maybe us city folks are different. Apartments don't have any extra room for storing "stuff". Even after we moved to a house with an attic, basement and 2-car garage we didn't accumulate a lot of stuff. Sure, we were poor and couldn't afford a lot of stuff but even when the family income increased we didn't acquire stuff.

My parents grew up during the depression and their reaction was to make do even after making do was no longer strictly necessary. My father's big thing was "get a civil service job" that way you would never be out of work.

I'm not a "collector" - anything comes in the house something must leave the house. My husband is the same and even so periodically we just rampage through the house and start tossing or donating.

I've always been interested in how folks react to a change in finances. I grew up poor so when finances became better I still thought "poor". Saved my money, spent wisely, considered every purchase - was it necessary. I had a friend who also grew up poor and her reaction as an adult was to spend money she would never have if she worked 3 lifetimes! My husband was the same way when we first married - his concept was the credit card companies would be there long after he was dead. It took me 10 years to change his spending habits.

I am frugal without being cheap. If I don't need it, why buy it. If I'm not using it why keep it.

Aren't people interesting? Completely different responses to similar situations.

Spot said... [Reply to comment]

We used to keep a lot of stuff, but after watching "Hoarders", I got very good at throwing stuff out!

My mother is a hoarder. My grandmother (her mom) was a hoarder. I'm not sure where that comes from. My mom recently got upset with my sister because she got rid of a nightshirt she'd worn as a child, that her kids had worn also, but outgrown. I told my mother that the memories are in your heart, not in the item. And you don't need to keep the stuff when you have the person.

Very interesting post, Heather!


Dee Andrews said... [Reply to comment]

This is an excellent post, Heather. Very wise & profound thoughts.

You've struck THE issue of Americans and their materialism. People in this country - except for the homeless and poorest of the poor - have SO MUCH STUFF!! Much more than in any other country of the world, over all.

Perhaps in some of the middle east oil rich countries those who are wealthy have more, but most people who live there do not. That is one of the reasons for all of the turmoil and revolution we're seeing in the middle east countries right now.

With your permission, I would like to modify your post a bit & feature it on my blog, showing you as the guest author, of course. If that's okay with you, email me and/or message me on FB and let me know.

Good thinking and good work!!