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What Do You Really Need?

February 03, 2017 Barbara Ballinger & Margaret Crane

We’re pretty content. At this point in our lives, we don’t need much except more time to do all we still want to do: continue to write, see more of the world, do more good for others and planet Earth, and be with family and close friends more often. 

Do we need more things? Let's talk about material possessions, appropriate before Thanksgiving kick-starts the frenzy of buying for the holiday season--tinsel, gifts, dreidels, and more. We fantasize about wining a big lottery. For Barbara, this would mean she could justify redoing her kitchen--what would be her fourth remodel, and this time with white marble countertops, a steam oven, and a small wine cooler. Margaret would redo the master bathroom in her condo with a trendy master walk-in shower and a freestanding tub, and travertine marble floors. She’d also like a season subscription to the Metropolitan Opera in New York City or Lyric Opera in Chicago. Another costly dream would be to set up a trust in her late husband’s name to provide music scholarships to underprivileged kids. Right now, these wishes for both of us are mere pipe dreams. 

On a smaller scale, Barbara thinks about purchasing some new clothing and shoes--we do love our shoes--to update her wardrobe, some new paints and brushes for the watercolor classes she hopes to get back to, and some new cookbooks and utensils since she and her beau are trying to cook more rather than eat out to be more health conscious. Margaret would buy the latest children’s books for the inner city kids to whom she reads each week and purchase a new mattress for her platform bed. 

But in the overall picture at this age--one of us at 70 and the other not far behind, we've found that we're starting to give away the bling and non-bling to our kids, good friends, or Goodwill. Barbara's daughters already have asked for a few pieces of her jewelry, an area rug here or there, an artwork, kitchen platters, and more. Margaret has given her kids carte blanche to take what they want—jewelry, silver, dishes, flatware, paintings, crystal, and glass pieces.   

And each of us knows we may reupholster some seating that looks worn or re-stuff the pillows that have flattened. At the same time, buying more furniture, art, even souvenirs from travels is highly unlikely since our homes are furnished and full. Who needs more stuff! Instead, a trip--its scenery, museums, and meals--are enough of a treat. (OK, a little something wouldn't be bad, especially those chocolates from an out-of-town shop for Margaret and another snow globe for Barbara's collection.) 

Does this mean we're thinking we won’t be around soon and need to start disposing of possessions? Hardly, we hope. It's just part of the process of knowing that things really don’t matter in the enjoyment of our lives when we've reached our stage. We've already downsized our homes, and we may yet again in the not-too-distant future. 

Our wish lists have far more to do with time to volunteer, spend time with our loved ones, take a long-hoped for trip, or plan a special dinner party where we surround ourselves with an interesting group for meaty conversation rather than surrounding ourselves with more stuff.




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