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Downsizing difficulties experienced firsthand

Joyce Walter reflects on letting go of treasures collected through the years
Reflective Moments by Joyce Walter

People our age are constantly using that dreaded word “downsizing.”

Each time I hear it uttered, I shudder internally, but nod physically in understanding.

Downsizing means getting rid of treasures that no one else would give a second look. 

Downsizing means a lot of hard work, finding boxes for packing up what is to be discarded, and deciding which charity might rejoice at receiving a dozen or so bags of what I think should bring a top price if reselling is undertaken.

Downsizing might also mean holding several summer garage sales, renting tables, hoping it doesn't rain and having tarps in case it does. And it also means not dickering on the prices and refusing to give the local junkman a deal when the day is done.

I understand the concept but getting down to the nitty gritty is not as easy as it sounds. Personally it will take me months, if not years, to go through the boxes of my childhood that have moved with us from house to house and are now stored in a far basement corner.

Sharing the contents with family members is my first wish, but I know they won’t be receptive and I can see the eyes rolling now when I offer some notebooks from high school in which I captured near-perfect marks from my favourite teacher. I think there might be 12 years worth of report cards in one of those boxes. It will be a journey of discovery when the task is finally underway.

Meantime, we have not totally ignored this downsizing business. In fact we have discarded several items just recently: a few jackets and coats that are either out of style or don’t fit anymore. 

And keys.

It has been the custom to have several house keys in storage just in case the ring of keys for house and sheds is misplaced. When the loss was reported, I immediately went to the drawer and produced an extra house key I had saved just for the occasion.

Unfortunately it didn’t seem to work when I tried it in the lock on the open door. Ditto for all the others I had had cut a long time ago. This was indeed a puzzle, complicated more when the key on my use-daily ring proved useless.

Then a moment of clarity ensued. Perhaps the door should be closed when checking the keys. And so with me outside and Housemate inside as safety against being locked out on the step, the key test resumed.

Aha: Yes indeed, all those keys worked just fine with the closed door. A scientific moment not previously revealed by anyone associated with keys.

With that problem solved and house re-entry ensured, we looked further into the drawer and came out with our hands filled with miscellaneous keys. For the life of us we couldn’t remember what they opened or why they were saved.

I recognized a key to an old newspaper building whose locks have surely been changed several times over the years. There were keys for vehicles we no longer own. And so on, until we gave up trying to figure out the reason for them being in the drawer.

Despite the fact one of those keys might be required in a year or two, we began the downsizing process. Keys were removed from a variety of souvenir key chains and deposited in the discard bag. We kept the key chains. For sure, by golly, they will come in handy for the next set of retainable keys.

So with truthfulness and some knowledge, we can commiserate with others who are also involved in parting with their treasures.

I wonder, though, if someone in my family would be interested in a pack of Grade 10 essays?

Joyce Walter can be reached at

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication. 



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