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  • Writer's pictureMarni Jameson

How to Let Go of What We Cherish

Today I am going to try to lead by example. That’s pretty funny as I am neither a leader nor a good example setter, but as the hero of this story, I believe I am both.


The lesson deals with getting rid of a cherished home furnishing, one that you have a great fondness for, but that no longer serves you or your home or the home you’re moving to. Maybe it’s also outdated and takes up space you could put to better use.


Have anything like that? I thought so.


My story centers on a large, Louis the 16th-inspired tapestry I bought while on a family vacation in France 25 years ago. My two daughters were ages 4 and 6. We were visiting Rocamadour, an ancient town built into the side of a cliff in Southwestern France.


While walking the cobbled streets, it started to rain, then pour. The girls and I took refuge in one of the many charming shops, while their father continued exploring the town with the only umbrella we brought. One look around, and I thought, uh-oh, this was a store I could get lost in for hours, weeks even.


Every surface was stacked, crammed really (space being a premium in these old European towns), with fine French porcelain dishes, cut crystal, exquisite linens and tapestries. I began to swoon and started browsing. My girls, too, started to explore, which I quickly saw would end badly. At their ages, asking them to look and not touch would be like asking them to do algebra. Reluctantly, I pulled myself away and began to steer them to the door to leave. Just then the manager appeared. He could see the dilemma. Rather than show us out, he looked at the girls and asked me if I thought they might like some hot chocolate. They lit up.


“And I think I have something else you might like,” said the manager, a marketing genius.


Next thing, the girls are sitting cross legged on the floor in the corner of the small shop, each with a cup of steaming cocoa and between them a basket of soft, bright-eyed kittens. Does life get any better?


Viola! I got the hour I needed to peruse the tapestries, consider their colors, scenes and sizes, and choose one. I had the five-by-seven-foot wall-hanging of Le Jardin de Bagatelle shipped. It has graced every one of my homes since.


Fast forward to 2024. I looked at my dining room with fresh eyes, and decided the tapestry needed to go. Back in the late 90s, I favored an Old-World European look. But styles along with my tastes have changed. I now favor more contemporary, transitional furnishings.


Yes, the tapestry takes me back to that rainy day in France, that charmed experience. And yes, I’ve endowed the piece with sentimental meaning. But that is not a reason to cling.


Here comes the tough love part. “Tapestry,” I said, holding its edges in my hands. “You and I have had a good run. We’ve shared a precious memory or two, but it’s time we said good-bye.”


Knowing that complacency is the enemy of progress, I acted. I called Carey Kuhl, a moving concierge who helps folks sell their nicer furnishings and gets a portion of the sale. A few days later, she rolled up to my house, and I rolled up Le Jardin de Bagatelle and put it in the back of her car.


She did some research to figure out its value on today’s market. She found the same tapestry for sale on an antique dealer’s site for 1450 euro (about $1575 dollars). She found another listed for $500, and another that sold at auction for just $50.


“Pricing is all over the place,” she said. “I can list it for whatever price you want, but I think under $500 is a good starting point.” Meanwhile, she was going to call a local French antique dealer she knew.


Before she listed the item, the dealer offered $300 firm. Recalling the saying, the first offer is your best offer, I took it.


Going through all this made me think of the key reasons we cling, all of which applied to my tapestry. Here are the reasons, along with how to debunk them. Maybe this will help you let go, too:

·      You don’t know what it’s worth. Market value is discoverable. Kuhl likes to use the phone app Google Lens to find out what items are selling for on today’s market and where. In the used furniture market, let selling price, not listing price guide you.

·      You want the item to go to someone who will appreciate it. When you sell an item in the secondhand market, whether through an expert like Kuhl or on your own, you get the piece of mind of knowing it will go to someone who wants it. Facebook Marketplace makes selling used items easy, and Facebook groups like The Buy Nothing Project helps you give items to those who will appreciate them.

·      You paid a lot of money for it. I can’t remember what I paid for the tapestry, but I’m guessing between $800 and $1,000. That was and still is a lot of money, but I plan to use the money from the sale to buy a piece of art to replace it that better fits my life and style today.

·      It has a story. Though irrational, endowing items with meaning is common. But when we sell or donate an item, we don’t give up our memories. We keep those. Memories don’t live inside of things; they live inside our hearts. I no longer have the tapestry, but the story of that rainy day in France, with the cocoa and kittens remains.


CAPTION: Keep the memories, lose the stuff — Despite its sentimental value, after 25 years, this tapestry no longer fit this home’s evolving décor, and so is on its way to finding a new home. Photo Marni Jameson.


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תגובה אחת

25 במרץ

Hot chocolate and a basket of kittens–truly a wonderful memory. Sigh.

I photograph items I am letting go, both large and small. A digital scrapbook with captions answering the w, w, w, w, h and WHY I kept the first box of pepper my husband and I purchased as newlyweds. The pepper box has left the house, but the memories will linger.

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