When I was in my twenties, I didn’t own a lot of stuff. During and after college, I moved from place to place with not much more than a futon, some clothes, a car, and a dog. I wanted many things in life, but they weren’t the kind of things I could buy at Crate and Barrel.

When I turned thirty, though, this changed.

I began to covet the domestic lives of my more settled friends; I envied their stylish stemware, comfy couches, good cookware, classy stereo systems, and their ability to stage sophisticated dinner parties. Tired of living like an over-aged college student, I wanted a comfortable home.

And thus began a period of stuff-acquisition that continued for several decades. During that time, in addition to candlesticks, placemats, and other household goods, I acquired a husband, two children, a house, and a garden.

But now my relationship to stuff is changing again. The kids are out of the house, and I have less enthusiasm for cleaning, gardening, and entertaining. I have all the household gear I will ever need – and then some. My interests run in other directions, and I don’t really want to manage such a large infrastructure.

It’s time to start getting rid of stuff.

This was brought home to me vividly this summer, as I helped my parents in Ohio liquidate their home of 50 years. They’re 87 and 90, and have just moved into assisted living, where they have 1/20th of the space they had in their former home. Truly, when you get old, you can’t take it with you.

I’m ready to start the process of winnowing down, but the problem is, more stuff is about to arrive. In breaking up the parental household, my siblings and I decided to adopt most of the ancestral stuff instead of selling it at an estate sale.

I’m going to Ohio for Thanksgiving and coming back with my grandmother’s bone china, her monogrammed napkins and tablecloths, several pieces of furniture, two antique clocks, some old china dolls, lots of framed pictures, and more.

They’re lovely. They have great emotional value to me. And they’re more stuff.

My sisters and I are wondering what will happen to these things in another 10 or 20 years when we move out of our homes. It’s hard to imagine that our hip, mobile children will want a lot of antique tchotchkes.

But they’ll be right in the middle of the stuff-acquisition phase of life. So who knows.