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Mail it off to distant relatives. Send meaningful things, especially if monogrammed with their initials.

It's a common sad refrain: "I have so many lovely things, and my children don't want any of it." Here are three positive ways to help sort out and give away the stuff.

Mail it off to distant relatives. Send meaningful things, especially if monogrammed with their initials. For example, I have three nephews who have the last name initial of my maiden name. I matched them up with the real silver items I had been keeping safe, in a safe, for many years. Each had a story about where it came from that I could retell them, who might value it. Monogrammed towels, stationery, and some jewelry with sentimental value can be handed on, to relatives or old friends who might enjoy using or having it now. I sent the silverware set I inherited from a grandmother to a niece. And all the old family photos went to my younger sister who has a strong interest in genealogy.COURTESY PHOTO: MARY JEAN RIVERA - Rivera

Resort your photo albums into smaller ones, for specific receivers, targeted at them. I had ten albums from over the years, full of photos of memorable family times. Old photos of relatives now passed away need an identifying note. There were also pictures of cousins when they were children along with mine, school and graduation photos, athletic events, extra wedding and baptismal pictures. Some were of our house under construction. I sorted to the intended person's pile. Some photos had been in place so long, they couldn't be lifted without severe damage, so I took the whole page for a person, giving more context to the individual's future album. I presented the first one to my oldest son. I was gratified that he was so pleased with it.COURTESY PHOTO: MARY JEAN RIVERA - Old family photos went to Mary Jean Rivera's younger sister.

Go shopping for birthdays and Christmas in your own home! I realized several years into my seventies that I had many items to share, not terribly valuable, but beautiful or useful to me: a Hummel of the Madonna and Child went to my daughter-in-law. A Kachina went to my younger son, who shares elements of that character's personality. A set of white Federalist lunch dishes and the "fish plates" from my other grandmother went to my oldest daughter. I am saving a pitcher that I still use often for my other daughter. My oldest son has spoken for the large carved owl that has held down a central position in my living room all his life. I gave for Christmas a useful (but seldom used, in the original box) camera to a grandson, and a good pair of binoculars to another grandson, and my guitar in a case to yet another grandson. Much as I loved those items, I am not using them much anymore. I have shared my silver jewelry given to me by their dad to my daughters on their birthdays, with notes about where and when they came to me. I cleaned out my closet recently and found some terrific costume clothes for yet another older granddaughter who creates costumes for Comicon events.

My children return the favors by recycling to me slightly outdated TVs, phones, dog houses, yard tools and sound IT advice!

Mary Jean Rivera is a member of the Jottings Group at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.

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