It is ironic that I should even be writing this post the day after I posted junk I brought home from the thrift store...I mentioned a few weeks ago that I went to Southern Colorado to help with my Gram's estate auction, and I wanted to write a bit about it.
My Gram loved pretty things, and she filled her home with them--lots and lots and LOTS of pretty things. We joked privately long ago that when it was time to clean out her house, we'd have some seriously stuffed closets to contend with, and we were right, although I think the extent of the stuffing of the closets shocked us all.
Originally, the plan was to hold a big garage sale. However, after eight 8" tables and the space under them were completely filled with just the Christmas stuff, they realized that a month of garage sales wouldn't be enough to clear everything out and contacted an auctioneer. The auctioneer recommended an estate auction where everything was to be sold in box lots, I imagine due to the sheer amount of items to be sold. My aunts and uncles and dad spent several weekends organizing and placing items in box lots, so when I arrived the day before the sale, there was not much work left to do.
I did have the opportunity to go through the boxes and choose some things to keep for myself, which admittedly was a big part of the reason I went down for the auction. On a previous trip down there to work, my Dad did try to choose a few items he thought I'd like to have, but the thought of all of my Gram's pretties being sold to strangers before I had the chance to choose for myself made me crazy! I'm so glad I was able to do it, because I rescued a lot of things that were special to me, that will remind me of my dear Gram.
The auction was held on a Monday morning. I thought that was unusual, but it didn't deter the shoppers. We had to have all of the boxes out on the lawn early because the sale started at 10:00 a.m. and the auctioneer said there would be shoppers there early to check out the boxes. Here's what the front yard looked like
And here's the back yard.
There were a few sweet moments for me, however. One was my grandpa's birdhouses. There were dozens of handmade birdhouses in his garage, all made from scraps of wood.
Some of his birdhouses went for $12.50 each, which doesn't sound like much unless you consider that they were created from materials from the junk pile. I think he would have been pleased to know that people were willing to spend money on something his hands made--I know I was.
Another moment came when I was watching some of the boxes being auctioned, because I was waiting to see how much some particular items went for. Some women behind me were visiting, and one asked the other what she was shopping for. The woman (who I don't know and who didn't know who I was) said, "Oh, I just wanted to have something of Dorothy's." Which of course, made me cry! How precious to know that she regarded my Gram so.
The emotional moments were tempered by moments where I really just wanted to come home and clean out my closets! There was just SO.MUCH.STUFF. I'm talking boxes and boxes of rolls of ribbon, garbage bags full of unopened decorative paper plates and napkins, enough gift wrap to start my own business. Really, it was excessive.
One thing my Gram was known for was that she wrote notes and cards to everyone, and she had enough stationery that she could have written to everyone in town for a month! There were boxes and boxes of cards and notes, stuff from Hallmark and Current that was 30 years old at least. And what makes me a little bit sick is that even though she had all of that, the notes & cards I've received from her over the past few years have all come from Hallmark at $2-$4 each. They were on a very limited income (my 87-year-old Gram actually worked up until quite recently), yet she was spending money on those cards rather than using up the impressive stash she already had.
It was definitely an exercise in the adage, 'you can't take it with you.' It did make me stop and think, just how MUCH do I really need? Because friends, I too like my STUFF. But I need to be wiser about how I use my resources--time, money, space in my closets.
From a buyer's standpoint, I learned that auctions are the way to go if you want a whole lot of stuff but not spend much! I've read about the goodies Barbara and Colleen have scored at auctions, but this was the first time I'd ever seen it for my own eyes. From a resale standpoint, that is the way to go. I have no doubt that if I visited any of the antique shops in my Gram's town, I'd find items from her estate in booths there. And why not? The price was right for certain. I'd love to attend an estate auction as a buyer but the only place I can find around here that does auctions holds them on Sundays, and I don't shop on Sundays so that's out for me.
The whole experience was bittersweet. It was sweet to be in my Gram's house one last time, to look at the things she loved that so expressed her taste and personality. It was sad to know that my Gram and Papa's house is really gone, at least the way we remember it. My uncle did have an outlook I found comforting--he said that he saw the auction as a way to spread my Gram & Papa throughout the community, for us to share them with others through their belongings. He saw it as a good thing, a joyous thing, not necessarily a sad occasion. I like that point of view! My Gram and Papa were lovely people, and I think their community was better for having them in it.