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Baby boomers are shrinking, but millennials don’t want heirlooms

Whether we’ve become empty nesters or following the latest decluttering trend, many of us baby boomers are downsizing.

That means less space for all those sentimental family heirlooms passed down from generation to generation and things we’ve painstakingly collected over our lifetimes. We can assume that our children will be delighted when we give them our most prized possessions.

Think again. Turns out Millennials aren’t all that into heirlooms. Perhaps this is what they mean by the generation gap these days.

Do our kids want all those photo albums we gingerly created over the years? No, our kids don’t know half the people in them anyway. You may get a request to scan important photos and email them. And who uses photo albums the most? Our adult children are busy capturing their own life moments digitally through Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

That beautiful china and formal dining set that is passed down from generation to generation? Where would our children put it? Additionally, Millennials entertain much less formally than in the past. They prefer a more minimalist lifestyle rather than the bulky, bulky, formal furniture we grew up with. You may very well get a polite no thank you.

What about all those old report cards, trophies, and artwork that you carefully saved for your children? All those sweet homemade cards they lovingly made for you? They will surely want their own sentimental treasures. Not that much. It seems that Millennials are not as nostalgic as we boomers.

Most likely, our adult children follow the current trend of living minimally themselves and do not own a house with an attic or basement to store things. They may travel or move around a lot.

Recently several articles have been written about this phenomenon and the consequent clash between generations.

Should this cause hurt feelings on our part? Should we try to put a little blame to get some sense into our children’s heads? “This means a lot to me.” “I paid a lot of money for this.” “This is part of our family history.”

Hell no! There is a fine line between bestowing and charging. I say that we should listen and respect the wishes of our children. Also, we should be proud of them.

Our adult children refuse to be defined by their possessions. Isn’t that a good thing? Didn’t we make fun of people in the ’60s for being too attached to material possessions? Our children have become independent adults now, making their own decisions and creating their own lifestyle, not copying ours. Isn’t that what we bred them for?

So what should baby boomers do with all of our heirlooms and possessions?

Put away those items you can’t bear to lose. Use your china every day instead of storing it. But don’t hold on to items year after year because you can’t be bothered to tidy up your belongings.

Remember, all those heirlooms and possessions served their practical purpose. You used and enjoyed them through the years. If you think these things are still useful, sell them or donate them to someone who really wants and appreciates them.

With love in their hearts, your children made homemade gifts and cards for you. You enjoyed them through the years and the gifts brought you joy. Gift delivery cycles are now complete. Put some items away and let the rest go.

Whatever you do, don’t force your kids to deal with all the mess after you’re gone. Do your kids a favor and have an honest conversation. Allow your kids to pick up items that they really love and that work for their lifestyle.

Then go through the sorting process now while you’re still healthy. And cheer up. Your children don’t need that huge old wardrobe to remember you fondly and keep you in their hearts.

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