Sorry, mom, I don’t want your hand-me-downs


I have a problem: my mom. Or more accurately, my mom’s home furnishings and holiday décor that she wants to pass on to me. The issue:  I don’t want her hand-me-downs, and I don’t know how to say no.

For the last few years, every week, she has brought over a box or a tote or a bag of things she has wanted to give me. Most of it is porcelain and ceramic knick-knacks, “collector” plates and figurines, and random holiday decorations. Some of it is “limited edition,” numbered crap that she thinks will be worth money someday.  The majority, however, is stuff she made, painted, or sewed 20 to 40 years ago. This makes it even harder to turn it down.

There is stuff that I have fond childhood memories of: things that lined the curio cabinets of my parents’ house: decorations we couldn’t touch but could look at through the glass.

But I don’t have curio or china cabinets, and my style isn’t sequined holiday décor, hand-painted ceramic cartoon angels, or a 35-year old reindeer whose antlers have been glued on more times than I can count. (Seriously, the poor reindeer has LAYERS of glue remnants that are probably as old as I am.)

I might have childhood memories of these things, but I don’t WANT them. And I’m not alone. Several media outlets have reported on how we don’t want our parents’ stuff.

These reports are not stopping our parents from trying to hand it down. Or keeping from us having to tell our parents no.

My mom means well, I know she does. As she’s downsizing her house, I know she wants stuff to go to a “good home.” I should feel honored that she believes I will take care of her things, but instead, I just feel overwhelmed.

There are a few things that I turned down (for example, a 250-piece, hand-painted holiday village that I just don’t have the room for), but doing so hurt her feelings so much that I hesitate to reject any more of her treasured hand-me-downs.

I’m not sure what the answer is, or if there is one. And I don’t mean to sound ungrateful.

Honestly, if you’ve been in this situation, I’d love to hear from you. How did you say no to your mom (or dad)? How did you turn down their stuff?


  1. My mother in law offered much of the same things to us. We would take them from her, and if they weren’t our cup of tea, we would donate them or throw the stuff out. Knowing that it helped her to downsize and we could assist in taking care of things that we would eventually have to do upon her death. She did not visit our house much, so I didn’t have to worry about her looking for it. We still do have the things she had “assigned” to us after she passed between all the other siblings. I haven’t decided what to do with them.


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