Certified appraiser Stewart (Collect Value Divest, 2016, etc.) doles out advice for baby boomers whose adult children reject their family heirlooms.
Stewart’s slim guide begins with her own story: after her son announced his engagement, she, without asking his opinion, spent more than $2,000 shipping family treasures, such as china and crystal, to him and his future wife. She was ready to send more when they “kindly but firmly” told her to stop. The first chapter then lays out the top 10 items that millennials don’t want, from books to fine porcelain dinnerware. As lifestyles have changed, writes Stewart, so have tastes and object valuations; for example, digital-savvy millennials don't feel an attachment to old tomes. They also lead mobile lives and don’t care for dark, heavy antique furniture. So what’s a boomer to do with all this rejected stuff? Chapter 2 lays out a “Five Piles Theory” of organizing and downsizing, beginning with what can be sold. If one is planning to donate items, Chapter 3 advises readers not to second-guess that decision. At times, this unblinking guide leaves the impression that the younger generation is erasing its heritage; in one sad anecdote, for instance, a 26-year-old seems more interested in dressing up for Star Trek conventions than inheriting and appreciating her great-grandmother’s steamer trunk. However, although Stewart acknowledges that there are exceptions, she still offers sweeping generalizations about millennials and other generations; many readers from Generation X, for instance, will be surprised to find out that they supposedly have “hired-out” housekeeping. The author’s voice is friendly but without sentimentality—she calls family photos “paper ephemera,” for example, and she sometimes scolds readers: “You have to face facts! Your grown children value a mobile lifestyle, uncluttered comfort, and the aesthetics of prevailing technology.” It’s a quick, easy read, though, which is brimming with color photographs of smiling people and lovely objects, such as antique dolls. It also contains some sound advice; for example, Stewart points out that local theater costume shops may want donated linens.
A wake-up call that may inspire retirees to spend their kids’ inheritances.