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Where did all this stuff come from?

When my husband and I were first married, we could - and did - pile everything we owned in a car and move wherever our jobs took us.

From Virginia to Kentucky to New York we traipsed, with our belongings in the back seat. Even relocating to Europe was a snap.

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Then we acquired kids and, at various times, houses that required beds, sofas, and end tables, not to mention washers, dryers, outdoor furniture, and lawn-care equipment.

Where, once upon a time, all our clothes filled only a couple of suitcases, suddenly we possessed so many outfits that our closet doors would barely close. Now when we moved, we narrowed the search for a new home with those two magic words "storage space."

Not so many years ago, the books we read came from the public library. Then we began patronizing the used paperback store. Now we have shelves - packed with hardcover books - in every room.

As we are planning to move once again, I ponder "possession escalation," and ask myself if we really need all this stuff. The obvious answer is no, but what do we get rid of? That large antique tureen? It's true we never use it, but it would be perfect for the soup-and-homemade-bread supper I've been hoping to invite friends to the past three winters.

Surely we don't need all those books. I'm willing to give up the leather-bound "Morgan Horse Register," which weighs three pounds, but not "The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire" - at least until I've finally read past Volume 2.

Now, excuse me, but I'm going to go clean out my husband's closet.

Write the Homefront, One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 or e-mail us at

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