‘I’m so not ready for Swedish “death cleaning”, thank you very much’
As if The Holidays weren’t bittersweet enough. (You know what I mean: You’re happy because it’s Christmastime, but then Christmas is over and you’re smack-dab in the middle of that weird Week-Before-New-Year’s and everyone is telling you they’ll “see you next year” and you’re deciding whether to put away the decorations now or wait and be confronted with them when you walk back into the apartment after your trip to Panama.) Or wherever. You get my drift.
And as if all this Seasonal Sturm und Drang weren’t bad enough, the other day I innocently opened the Times to find a review of this new book called, I kid you not, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning.
Apparently, the Swedes have been doing a decluttering thing called “dostadning”, or “death cleaning” for ages. But this Swede Chick wrote this book and now she’s out-Kondo’ing Marie with her take on getting rid of stuff. If you need a little reminder, Marie Kondo is the one who had everyone (including The Child) tossing their stuff and turning her pages a couple of years ago. Her deal was to get rid of anything that doesn’t “spark joy”.
Well. Margareta one-ups Marie by suggesting rather strongly that we get rid of stuff so that our survivors don’t have to (gulp) deal with it when we die. Wow. Leave it to the Swedes to base a lifestyle on guilt instead of joy.
But she doesn’t mean we should distribute our belongings to our near and dear now instead of making them wait to inherit. Oh no. She suggests that it might be better to throw your stuff out than give it to your kids. She asks — reasonably, if depressingly — “If you can’t pawn off your stuff on family members when you’re alive, why would they want it when you’re dead?”
Sheesh. She must have some pretty sorry stuff. As for me, I kind of have the opposite problem. I actually have some not-all-that-expensive-but-still-pretty-nice stuff. Take my clothes closet. (No, don’t; I’m still using it.)
At least The Child thinks my closet stuff is pretty choice. Until I caught her at it, she was rifling my wardrobe right and left. I had no idea that, say, my one-of-a-kind brocade top I bought on a trip to London had gone to a party without me. It was only when she quite naively posted a photo of herself on Facebook partying in my duds (a purple silk skirt, it was) that The Child got busted. (I guess she forgot that it was she who set me up with Facebook in the first place.)
Well, in my defense I can say that I didn’t get too mad. In fact, I gave her the skirt. Eventually, even the brocade top. Not because I’m super-nice — or, sorry Margareta — because I’m “death cleaning” (ouch, it hurts even to type that). It’s because I have this rule about myself and my clothes. I don’t ask myself if a particular item “gives me joy”. No. I ask myself if it “makes me look ridiculous”. Much better test.
As far as Stuff That’s Not Clothes is concerned, I’m not ready to give any of it up. Those platters and wine goblets and that “nice china” cluttering my shelves? Guess what? I use it. All the time. I never ever “save something for Company”. After all, who’s better Company than me? Even when I’m all by myself, I whip out the silver. (The other benefit to actually using your silver, by the way, is that the more you use it, the less you have to polish it.) So there, Miss Give-Your-Stuff-Away-Because-It’s-Just-Sitting-There Swede.
All I can say in closing is that I am super-glad The Dude didn’t get me this book for Christmas. (Can you imagine giving this book as a gift? Those fake grape leaves my sister-in-law got me that one year — which you can read about in ‘Is that stocking half full, or half empty?‘ — are looking pretty good right about now.)
Nope. As you may recall from that same post, I got ‘gifted’ another nice piece of jewelry. Which reminds me. According to my fellow Swedes and their “death cleaning” credo, “when surfaces clear, serenity settles in.” Well. All I can say is that the more cluttered my dresser top — and my wrist — the more serene my household feels.
Of course, The Child will end up getting the jewelry, too. Someday. And yes, she’ll have to sort through it, poor thing. In the meantime, I’m still considering giving her those spiffy Marc Jacobs boots she’s been eyeing. Maybe next year. That is, if I’m still alive enough then to realize that I finally look ridiculous in them.
New York City. January 2018