The Liturgy of eBay

So, I have become an eBay seller.  I come from a family that saved things, and as an only child, all those saved things ended up with me. They sat in boxes in the basement, full of memories and nostalgia.  When we moved to a new home last fall, it became painfully clear that they had become burdensome and I promised to get them out of the house.  I call it “finding them new homes.”

It turned out to be an odd assortment.  There were the dolls that I played with as a child.  Lots of dolls.  There were carved wooden birds that my grandparents bought in Arizona in the 1950’s.  There were board games from the 1930’s and the 1950’s, and a guide book to Disneyland from 1957.  There was the sterling silver flatware I got when I got married (to someone else …) in 1970, and dishes with quilt patterns that I bought in the late 1990’s.  There was a random Hummel figurine and a brass clock.  And oh yes, my mother’s collection of artisan dollhouse miniatures.  There was a lot of stuff.

I have been postponing and resisting getting rid of these things.  It seems somehow disloyal to my parents who had all this stuff in their basement.  If they kept it all this time, it must be important, or valuable, or something, right?

But a promise is a promise.  So I started looking for adoptive homes.  Friends who now live in Arizona were glad to have the carved birds, my cousin who is a Disney vacation planner is tickled to have the Disneyland guidebook, and the owner of a dollhouse store helped me to sell most of the miniature furniture.

That left mostly the dolls and the board games – so I turned to eBay.  And the way you start to sell things on eBay is to take pictures and write descriptions.  What a chore.

Only it turned out not to be a chore (though it was a fair amount of work).  It turned out to be an opportunity to reconnect with all of these objects, to appreciate them, and to say good-bye to them.

So I ironed little doll dresses, undressed and redressed the dolls, took their pictures, wrapped them in tissue paper.  I wrote about them – what they looked like, where they came from, what they meant to me.  And when I was done, I uploaded it all to eBay.  And people bought them.  People who want them.

Today I worked on the board games.  I sorted all their parts and read the rules (yes, all of the boxes still had their original directions).  I reminisced about playing them in the cool of our basement on hot summer days when I was a little girl.  I marveled at the two games that we never played, but that somehow got saved all these years – they are oddly new-looking.  And when I was done, I uploaded it all to eBay.  Someone will buy them, I am pretty sure.

The process has not been nearly as sad as I thought it would be.  It has been time consuming, but it has also been something of a relief.  And there is a little money from them as well – money that we will use to get something for our new home – something that we like and that fits the life we have now.  Something that will not be stuck in a box in the basement.

So here’s the lesson (Thank You, eBay …):  It is important to say good-bye to the things (and people) we love when we have to let them go.  That’s why we have going away parties and retirement parties; that’s why we have graduations and funerals; it is why there was a Last Supper.

So I am grateful for the liturgy of eBay:  the pictures and the words, the uploads and the updates, the bidding and the waiting, the packing and the shipping.  I am grateful to have finished my time with these precious things with affection and respect and only a little sadness.  And I am grateful to have a little more space – in my soul as well as in my house.

Prayer:  Blessed God,  help us to recognize the ebb and flow of objects in our lives; to love them when they arrive as part of our lives, and to love them again when it is time to let them go.  Amen.

One thought on “The Liturgy of eBay

  1. Amen. I’m a minimalist but my head is still turned by beautiful china and crystal. I’ve made a lot of progress in downsizing our things, but there is more work to be done. The KonMarie method of getting rid of things is rather similar to what you describe… pause, reflect, then release. It’s good advice for stuff and life. Thanks.

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