Might As Well Laugh…

For a while when we were searching for a title for our book I thought it should be called “Help for the Worst Days of Your Life.” (Fortunately, sounder minds prevailed, and it became Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home.)

The thing is, for most people there are plenty of moments when the overwhelming job of emptying out a family home, especially one that has been lived in for many years, can feel like the worst days of your life (if, that is, you are lucky enough to have escaped other even worst fates, such as serious illness, or war).

BUT. There are also moments of comic relief from time to time, and somehow knowing that other people have felt just as overwhelmed as you and your family have felt can be oddly comforting (not to mention occasionally laugh-out-loud funny).

That’s why I’m hoping we can pool a collection of stories about funny moments in downsizing the family home, to share with others.

I remember one of the people I interviewed for the book telling me that after ALL the boxes in the house were packed and sealed, and just before the movers were supposed to arrive, her Dad suddenly realized that he didn’t know where his keys to the new house were. After some retracing of steps, and frantic remembering of when he had last had them, he realized that the sad probability was that somehow the keys had been packed into one of the boxes in the kitchen.

After a discouraging, and unfruitful search through many of the boxes, the keys were discovered in the kitchen, all right–in the refrigerator!

Go figure.

One of the funniest things that happened in our family had to do with the fate of a sampler of a Model T Ford that my mother had cross-stitched and framed. My brother-in-law, who grew up with very few possessions, had been very helpful as we were going through all the things in our Dad’s house before it was sold. We kept telling him he should take something he would like, something to remember our parents by, and he kept saying there wasn’t really anything he wanted. Finally, looking at the sampler of the Model T, he said, “Well, maybe I would like that.”  So we set it aside in what we thought was a safe corner of the living room for him.

The next day, in an almost unbelievably unlucky move, my brother, who was moving out of the way to let someone pass by him, stepped back and suddenly we all heard that disheartening sound of crunching glass–under his foot!

You guessed it. It was the sampler of the Model T–salvageable yes, but not nearly as nice as it had been the day before, and now needing work before it could be enjoyed.

I’ve never heard my brother-in-law hoot in just exactly the same kind of way either before or since.

Those are two of the most evocative stories I know of–not really laugh-out-loud funny, but certainly funny enough to bring about a rueful smile and a feeling of recognition for those who are out there right now in Downsizing Land, tripping over boxes, losing keys, smashing the frames of pictures that have just been given to long-suffering brothers-in-law who asked for only one little thing, and that was it.

What stories do YOU have to share with those people who need cheering up right about now? We’re offering a free copy of our book to the person who provides the story that makes us laugh the hardest.

Janet Hulstrand is a writer/editor,  writing coach travel blogger, and coauthor of Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home.


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