Further Thoughts on Estate Sales

I went to another estate sale today. I came away from this one with mostly vintage canning jars and Scouting insignia that I use for spellwork.

Estate sales have a totally different feel than yard sales. With yard sales, I feel self-conscious evaluating things because I know the owner is standing right there. You know all the things you’re looking at are cast-offs, though. At least, you usually do. A couple weeks ago I went to a yard sale where the woman running it really didn’t seem ready to part with things…

An estate sale has an air of carrion about it, no matter how professionally it’s run. You’re there because the owner died. These are the things that were left behind, and there was nobody who knew her or him that wanted them. Can you imagine someone going through your house and putting a price tag on everything? Your half-finished cross-stitch project, your child’s baby shoes, your photographs and slides and VHS tapes.

It’s enough to make me not want to own anything, and at the same time it makes me wish I could honor these people, somehow. It’s not like they’re here to care, I know, but… it makes me feel better to give them a little extra honor in death. That is why I hail the Lady of the Mushrooms.

The home we shopped in today was owned by two crafty people. There was a workspace in the basement as well as the garage, with wood and soldering equipment. There were four different sewing machines, tons of notions, lots of hand-embroidered and cross-stitched artwork. This couple clearly took great joy in making things. They had beautiful taste in furniture. They travelled, raised children and probably grandchildren, and their books showed they spoke multiple languages. I hope they are well-remembered by their families, but I feel better doing my small part to remember them here.

0 thoughts on “Further Thoughts on Estate Sales

  1. It’s true that you can tell a lot about people by their belongings and how they cared for them. I work at a used book store and it always makes me a little sad when someone who never knew the owners cart in a load of books lovingly collected to sell. It’s especially hard when we come across old photos and have no family wanting them returned. I think it’s lovely what you did for this couple, giving them another place to be remembered. 🙂

    1. I used to work in a store where we took some used roleplaying books, and it was always easier when the owners brought them in, yeah. Occasionally they came from other family members or something, maybe with notes and illustrations that must have taken dozens of hours (maps and once an entire campaign world) and the person selling them didn’t seem to care or appreciate them at all. It was really hard because I wanted to shake them and make them see what they meant.

  2. The yard sale where the woman was having trouble was expressly a fundraiser (I don’t recall for what), so it may have been a situation where she was sending things to the yard sale because she felt like she should; her logical mind (or her spouse) said something should go, but she hadn’t put the emotional work into parting with it yet.

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