Sunday, August 19, 2018

More Swedish Death Cleaning

Photo by Salt Water New England - Limoges might stay, old L.L. Bean catalogs definitely going...

Swedish death cleaning (Döstädning) is the gradual process, typically starting when one reaches around 50, of getting rid of belongings to streamline life.  The "death" in Döstädning refers to the goal of not burdening the heirs with the need to weed through everything.  This ongoing habit of refining can allow one to enjoy what is kept even more.

Today, archives of L.L. Bean catalogs post 2004 (the last worthwhile year for many clothing companies) will be recycled, while other items are being considered.

Genetically speaking, only 12% Swedish death cleaning.  Swedish Family Members from Stockholm  - Photo from Family Archives

22 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Yes, it is ... and there is a healthy market for antique Flow Blue pieces on eBay.

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  2. Oh, dear, what a dreadful subject. I have no plans to die myself, but nevertheless, we have already purchased cemetery plots. More to the point, though, we are currently slowly dealing with our accumulation of National Geographic magazines. I think I pull out about one in twenty for keeping. Few are all that old, as National Geographic's go, but my most special issue features an article by Admiral Byrd about Little America.

    We are, in fact, still dealing with other people's accumulations of possessions, few of which are treasures, though some are. Unfortunately, we are also storing many things for my daughter, who is married and still in rental housing. When they finally get a permanent place of their own, she'll have to take possession of it. That's the theory, at least.

    We also have a Swedish branch of the extended family, residing in Minnesota, land of ten thousand lakes and a hundred thousand Olsens. There was also a Serbian branch but it seems to have been broken off.

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    1. Many thanks for the last part, haven't laughed that hard in a while...have you tried grafting?
      =0)

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    2. As I said, the Serbian branch has gone its own way but is apparently in the process of intertwining with a Croatian, in a manner of speaking.

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    3. National Geographic Magazine, when stored together on bookshelves become the densest matter known to man. They actually create their own gravity. RIP Ikea.

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  3. Jättebra! We have an old, large sewing box in our living room, where my wife (of Swedish extraction) stows her Christian Science Monitors, Chronicles of Higher Education issues, and similar periodicals plus the odd clothing catalog. Most of these go unread. Three or four times a year, I do a death cleaning and relegate these to the recycling bin that is wheeled to the curb twice a month for collection. Where household clutter is concerned, newspapers and other print matter are the devil, and death cleaning is the perfect solution.

    Best Regards,

    Heinz-Ulrich

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  4. I just finished reading "The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning" and it's quite a contrast to the Marie Kondo method. I am appreciating the gentleness and the gradualness of it. And it's not sad at all. I'm feeling so unburdened and also happy that my things will be sorted enough so my heirs will not inherit a burden.

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  5. I do love the OLD LL Bean catalogues. Great memories and evidence of a time, now gone by, of quality and honest pricing. And no had to be insulted by the demand that you "be an outsider" to enjoy the benefit of their products.

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    1. I regret not having kept some catalogs. The old Early Winters and, dare I say it, the early Banana Republic catalogs were very entertaining. I also wish I'd saved the old Filson catalogs, too, what with their product line having changed so much over the last ten years or so. Regarding Filson, it says a lot that some of their garments were available with an "Alaskan fit" or a "Seattle fit."

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  6. The opposite of the New Yorker cartoon captioned "The life changing magic of stuffing everything into a giant Hefty bag and leaving it for someone else to deal with." Or perhaps the same. After all, unless we are throwing it all in the trash, someone is getting all that stuff we downsize out the door. I have said for years that I spent the first half or my life accumulating stuff, and the second half getting rid of it.

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  7. I prefer the "house is burning" test. What things will you grab on your way out the door? Everything left to burn will, eventually, have even less value than being left as kindling. This method also requires concentration by instinct (the house is burning, remember?) so that those things which cross the threshold with you are assuredly close to your soul. Since the time we climbed out of the Middle Ages we have defined ourselves by what we possess, our costumes, trinkets, furnishings and vehicles. Isn't it time to stop?

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  8. There is also a fairly light-hearted book on the subject entitled "Clutter's Last Stand."

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  9. My mother in law wants to do that -- get rid of at least some 90 years of accumulation -- none of her children or grandchildren want her stuff -- sterling silver oyster forks, sets of crystal cordial glasses, etc. Of course, I've got an attic full of junk too. Am thinking of calling a clean out company because I am too busy/too lazy to have a garage sale!

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  10. We just uncovered a copy of the Fall 2003 L.L. Bean catalog. It doesn't look like we spent much time leafing through it. However, even then, most of their products were imported. The exceptions were furniture and their famous Bean boots and their canvas totes, plus a few other things. That issue featured the L.L.Bean edition of 2004 Subaru Outback. Prices have gone up since then, too.

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  11. As a newlywed, I was often struck by the crystal blue eyes so many of my husband's fellow Swedish countrymen and women were blessed with. And one Christmas complimented his grandmother on how her Aquamarine ring matched her lovely holiday dress - and beautiful, crystal blue eyes. The 85-year smiled demurely, and blushed as she thanked me.

    A few years later, at our first Christmas gathering that she could not attend (due to illness), I opened her present to me and gasped. There was the ring, in it's original box, from a gold jeweler long gone! My Mother-in-Law, seeing my reaction, said, "Did you know when you complimented Mormor (Grandmother in Swedish), that when Morfar (Grandfather) proposed to her he gave her that ring saying that he picked it because it matched the color of her beautiful blue eyes?" "No, I didn't", I said as I started to cry. "You made her so happy that day that she wanted you to have it."

    She never made it out of the hospital. Her gift was a real life's lesson in "Döstädning": the more important part of the tradition is giving away beloved possesions to people who shared them with you, if even for a moment.

    Did you never share a memorable cup of tea or stack of blueberry pancakes with someone who might think fondly of you as they use that lovely pitcher some day, Muffy?


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    1. Dear"Seasons..." you were so dearly cherished. Your initial compliment was a communication of deeply held values which she returned with the gift of the ring: crystal blue symbolizing your spiritual connection.

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    2. What a beautiful story! It gave me goose bumps.

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    3. Seasons, your comment brought tears to my eyes.

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  12. The older L.L. bean catalogs-- I recently stumbled upon one from 2002--- oh how I wish I could just buy everything from that catalog. The current website doesn'T seem to be stocking things I would have considered Bean staples-- khaki skirts, nice fall skirts and dresses (for dresses it is mostly one knit dress-- I have tried it, but the neckline is much too low for work/professional events, church, etc.)

    --EM

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  13. Somewhere in someone’s attic there is a 1977 The Talbot’s catalog when they were still only in New England & their flagship store was in Hingham. Anyone performing Dostadning please send to me ;)

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  14. I'm going through this now. Just gave years of NatGeo and over 300 books (some i kept) to the Cobb county library. Lots of stuff, uh, treasuries to my family and friends.

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