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  • Writer's pictureMarni Jameson

Readers Weigh in on 20 Years of Columns



Thanks to all who sent in congratulatory notes after my column from a few weeks ago announcing my 20th anniversary of writing this weekly missive. I almost let the milestone pass without mention, but then I thought, heck, if I don’t give a shoutout, who will? Besides, not mentioning would make me feel like a pathetic woman sitting alone in the dark with a sparkler.

 

So, I not only wrote about my last two decades, but also invited you to tell me your top takeaways, and how they did (or didn’t) work out. I was heartened to hear from so many longtime readers. My word count prevents me from sharing all the lovely letters, but here are a few choice excerpts:

 

My husband and I have been renovating our historic, double-shotgun home since we bought it, and you've been right there with us since 2004 when your column arrived in The Times-Picayune. So many weeks in a row I'd exclaim in wonder how you had known just what to write that week to help us! Thank you for being part of our renovation journey. We’ve had many hilarious ups and downs together.

Molly K. Vigour 

New Orleans

I am the last man in the world to read a weekly home improvement column, but to paraphrase a scene from Jerry Maguire, you had me at downsizing and hoarding. For most of my 70 years I've collected enough "priceless" items to make the hosts of "Antiques Roadshow" want to set fire to my house. You've become my muse for getting rid of stuff. Oh, and as a Colorado resident, I can relate to the story of your patio collapsing outside your house. 

Dan Rector

Monument, Colorado

 

Over the past few years, I have found that I always pause when I turn the page of my newspaper and see your column, thinking that I'm not really interested in, for example, decorating a dorm room. But I seem to always read and actually finish your columns. It's true: You have “so many important things to say!” Your columns are also a nice break from all the other terrible news I feel compelled to glance at.

Christine Clayworth

Novato, California

 

“Actually finish.” The ultimate compliment.

 

The advice that stuck was so simple, but it made a big difference: “When decorating for the holidays, if you put a big Santa on the mantel in place of a vase, put the vase in the box you store the Santa in. When it’s time to put the holidays away, simply switch the vase for the Santa.” I can’t tell you the number of times, I’ve putting away my giant Santa collection and said, now where did I put the bowl and candlesticks that were here six weeks ago? I once couldn’t find my red placemats for a year and a half.

Doreen Malin

Ross, California

 

I am very glad I found your column “How to Let Go of What We Cherish.” It sent me a message I needed to realize. The last paragraph reminded me that the memories are in me, not in things. Due to cancer, I have given up a lot, and am not able to walk or travel anymore, but I have the memories inside.

Anne Gracia

Hayward, California

 

I love the columns with details on how to choose silverware or knives mixed in with columns about overall lifestyle concepts and the humor of real living. I also love getting a real newspaper so I can rip out some columns and save them. Nancy Oates 

Orlando

 

I have your column headlined “Your Kids Don't Want Your Stuff” prominently displayed.  

Judith

Mill Valley, California

 

We have much in common, including getting in trouble at school for talking too much. I was kept off the gold honor roll in first grade because I had a C in conduct, but otherwise all As. It took me until 3rd grade to finally earn an A in conduct, but I did learn self-control without medication. I love your down-to-earth style, practical advice, and that you throw in the pitfalls you’ve faced.

Denise Lacour 

New Orleans

 

My favorite two words in this column: “without medication.”

 

When I read your anniversary column, I thought "Darn it, there goes one of my favorites!"  I was relieved to read that you weren't retiring and that you had plenty more to say. I have zero decorating ability and laugh when I see myself in the flubs you talk about. I hope some of your sage advice has rubbed off on me. 

Joanie Holden

Littleton, Colorado

 

After my mom’s passing, it took me two years to go through everything stored in her double garage that never had a car in it, and her home filled with "things" stacked on every surface in every room. Thank you for helping me and others turn what starts as an overwhelming burden into a rewarding and heartwarming project.

Gae Neely 

Martinez, California

 

I really liked the column (“Cleaning Closets Can Aid Kids in Africa, Animals in Shelters”) about how you shared several different opportunities to donate household goods (sheets, towels, old suitcases) while gaining closet and drawer space. I volunteer at a local elementary school and shared your column today with the teachers to pass onto their students’ parents. This is a win-win, no-cost project. Thanks for your columns that make our homes, communities, and, indeed, our world better.

Laurie Akin

Osprey, Florida

 

I think of you every time I take my sheets out of the washing machine and slap them around to get the wrinkles out before they go into the dryer. However, the most significant takeaways came from the columns you’ve written about downsizing, and about saying goodbye to the stuff in our lives. I’ve attached a photo of one of your most beloved columns. Our only son appears on the surface to be an unsentimental guy, but I know that when the time comes he’s likely to be paralyzed when sorting through what remains of his parents’ lives. I have a file for “when the time comes” filled with practical documents — investment account details, the phone number of our estate attorney, etc.  But your column lives at the front of the file. The attorney will be there to guide him through the estate process. The investment advisor will help him liquidate the accounts, and you’ll be there to hold his hand through the hardest part of all. 

Mary Weinberg

San Rafael, California

 

“I think of you every time I take my sheets out of the washing machine and slap them around…” Not sure how to take that.

 

Congratulations on 20 years of writing that makes the rest of us feel normal. My wife and I are currently in the “do we downsize or not” conversation, which I assume I will lose. Either way, thanks for helping us along.David Swanson

Orlando

 

Enjoy some of your columns that interest me. Nobody bats 1,000.

Jim Fitch

Winter Park, Florida

 

Thanks for keeping it real, Jim.

 

CAPTION: Lessons in letting go — The kids don’t want your stuff, including your old furniture, is one of the lessons that have stuck with readers over the years. Photo courtesy of Dreamstime.
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