Down-sizing in America may be bad news for kids.


McMansions are out, tiny houses are in. So I bet you think I’m going to say that crowding a family of four into a two bathroom, one living-room home is going to damage little psyches. Where will they play with Wii? Will they need larger earphones? And does that lead to early onset deafness?

No! I’m talking about us, the grand-folks, who are moving in to smaller homes. I just read an article (Wall Street Journal, August 20) about a Japanese architect’s creation for an 18-foot-wide lot. Hideyuki Nakayama ingeniously designed a two story new home for a Kyoto couple with two small kids. It has sunlight, play space, and breezes, yet just one bedroom and a loft. There are no closets.

Somehow, and I’m afraid the reasons are tragic, people in Japan and other countries have learned to live without all the extra space we need for things we collect or hate to throw away, including memorabilia.

Now this is what I meant may be bad news for kids. Grown-up kids. If they don’t have basements and attics and closets, they may be bring stuff to your house, and now you are going to have to send it back – or throw it out. Or are you going to rent a room at a “self-storage” warehouse, one of the spookiest businesses that have cropped up in our generation’s experience. (At least they could have given it a more positive name. How about Later Alligator?)

I am going though old photos left by my mother, some of which were left to her by her mother. I am saddened to think how few are relevant to anyone except (in some cases) me. I also have all dad’s awards and samples of his accomplishment as a human being, at work and outside work. I have mother’s tiny homemade planning kit for when they built their last house, with all the little pieces of furniture cut out like paperdolls. I’m going to save this – maybe frame it.

But then, how many of my framed mementos are going to mean anything to my kids? There’s the handmade lace cuff for a dress, one of two given to me by a woman in her eighties as example of how women in the early 20th century updated their old clothes; a string of wood pieces and beads I put together last summer at a friend’s summer cottage; a collection of feathers I found on the ground, messages of encouragement (I believe) from my angelic dad. Someone will have to deal with those and with the several plastic bags of dried flowers I keep first as potpourri and later as fertilizer.

Of our three children, one now has all her belongings in her house; one has recently left some pieces of furniture “temporarily” while he reorganizes their garage; and one has left a big blue plastic box of things from way-back-when. He lives in another state, and when he visits never has time to see what’s in that box. Besides, they just refurbished their house to improve order and storage space.

Do you think I should ship it to him?

Family Photo Album 1920s-1940s

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