The Garage Sale

I swore I would never have a garage sale, and I have been faithful to my promise—until now. I never anticipated that my daughter would have a garage sale. Of course, I had to be there to supervise as she and her 13-year-old best friend sold their junk.

Because that’s all it is, folks—junk.

The sparkly dress she wore in the Christmas play. The butterfly pillow she received at her 2-year-old birthday party. The ceramic dogs she bought from the dollar store. The camp fan. Eventually it all ends up neatly arranged on white plastic tables in a driveway.

My daughter is young enough that she is embarrassed by people looking through her stuff. She’ll get over it. She’ll become callous like me.

But last weekend we were at my parents’ house. (It’s still my parents’ house, even though my mom is gone.) My daughter walked from room to room, touching my mom’s things—her clothes, her shoes, her 4th of July decorations.

And I thought of that line from Wendell Berry’s excellent novel, “Hannah Coulter,” when Nancy Beechum’s things are passed down at the wedding shower: “They were handled around the room as if they were living things.”


  1. I forbade garage sales at our house as of 2007 when I weighed the effort against the return… No, now we just leave the junk at the curb. They seem to always find a home.

    Lovely way to end this post. You took the whole thing up a notch.

  2. It does seem “things” can take on a life of their own if we’re not careful. I suppose it is the memories attached that make it so.

  3. Sheila Seiler Lagrand says

    Now just wait a minute. I was not prepared for this post to veer off into Mom-memories Land.

    You just blew the fog away from something I’d been trying to see clearly for some weeks now. . . how I couldn’t figure out why I felt so icky about the way some of my mom’s belongings were being passed out.

    Thanks, dang it.

  4. Ah yes, the ‘junk’ that holds living memories. Nicely done, Megan. (And I swore off garage sales long ago…way too much work for too little ‘reward.’ Better to give it away once there are no overriding memories attached.)

  5. Yes, it is still your parents’ house. And I’m with Shrinking Camel–I much prefer to give stuff away or leave it out on the curb. When cleaning out my mom’s house so that she could move to a smaller place, she had such a hard time getting rid of things. My husband encouraged her to give as much away as she could, in order to be a blessing to others.

  6. You’ve perfectly captured the way we feel about the things we associate with those we love so dearly. It really has nothing to do with their material value – it has everything to do with the heart.

  7. I think there’s something about being able to touch the things (not just see them). I can get to know someone I never knew by touching around at their old things.

  8. There is just something about a garage sale that makes people slow down and look. It can also brings the neighbors out to visit. Just put some junk in the driveway and bingo…you have a party.

  9. Last time I was home, I went through Mom’s closet and drawers, just touching things. We’re able to say “Dad’s house,” but Mom’s all over it.

    Did she make any money? I swore no more garage sales–but I’m thinking of a “Take What You Want–Leave What You Can” sale to help finance my Haiti trip.

  10. Goosebumps.

    The last garage sale I had I made $100. My husband told me he would give me $100 to never have another.