Talking Turkey (About Downsizing) at the Holidays

atis-fruit-clipart-outline-turkey-feather-turkey-clip-art---vector-clip-art-online-royalty-free-public-domain-hfcdh2ddIt may not be the first thing that comes to mind as an appropriate topic of conversation when family members gather during the coming holiday season.

But the holidays are actually a great time to take advantage of the opportunity, when family members are all (or at least more) in one place, to talk about The Future.

Many people dread this conversation, but most also find, once that deep breath has been taken and the subject launched, that’s it’s not as bad as they feared it would be.

Is it time to talk to your parents–or your kids–about an eventual (or imminent) move from the family home? What are the pros and cons? What are some of the available options? Are there waiting lists for some of the more desirable places? Are there tours you could take together while everyone’s together, “just to see,” whether any decisions are made now–or left until “later”? Are there ways you can help each other begin to figure out how to approach this process, how to begin dispersing and/or safeguarding important family records, treasures, favorite items of furniture–or whatever? Are there tasks that can be done now rather than later, so that when the time does come, it’s not so overwhelming?

Even if no move is planned–if the plan is for “aging in place”–there’s plenty to talk about in terms of making a family home safer and more accessible, and for various matters having to do with the passing on and/or distributing the responsibility and caring for treasured family items–not to mention treasured family members!

This may not be the best mealtime conversation, but surely it’s not a bad time to broach the subject and agree to sit down to a family meeting sometime while you’re all together.

If you’re planning a trip home for the holidays, we urge you to think about this in advance. Our book “Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home” can be helpful in planning ahead, and in figuring out how best to approach the topic. The people we talked to in the process of writing our book–just “regular folks” as well as professionals who help families and individuals through this process–have lots of good ideas for how each family can find their “own right way” to do this.


So if downsizing is on the horizon for someone in your family, we hope you’ll consider taking our book with you for reading on the plane–or maybe sharing it with other members of the family before you get together. Our new e-book version has lots of helpful links for resources that can be helpful in the process–guiding you toward detailed advice for dealing with everything from antiques appraisal to recycling or disposing of toxic materials.

Plus we’ve gathered helpful tips about how to navigate the delicate feelings and surprisingly intense emotions that tend to come to the surface along the way–and how to get through this process stronger and closer as a family, no matter what bumps in the road you encounter.

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

Five Key Questions to Ask Before You Begin Emptying the House

Whether you are downsizing your own home or you are in charge of the process for someone else, answering a few key questions before you begin dispensing with objects can help the process go more smoothly.

1. Has everyone in the family been consulted, and informed that the process of emptying the house is about to begin?

2. Is there a family plan for how to go about this process? Has everyone agreed to it?

3. Is there a date set for when the process will begin? Is it clear to everyone who will be involved?

4. Has there been a discussion about how to handle any disagreements or disputes that may arise in the process?

5. Have we dealt with any disagreements about any of the above as well as we can? If we are not all in agreement, is there at least agreement that the process should begin?

Depending on the situation, you may have to proceed without having ideal answers to all of these questions. But if you’ve done your best to inform everyone of what’s happening, and have attempted to gain cooperation among all involved parties, you will have done all you can to promote family harmony in what can be a difficult time. You should give yourself credit for that–and so should everyone else!

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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