Something strange happened when we tried to get rid of our old couch.
Our family room couch has seen better days. I bought this sectional when I was in college — one of my first “grown-up” purchases! It’s been a constant in our home. It’s seen the arrival of my husband, three children, two dogs, two cats, and countless slumber parties and family movie nights.
Cosmetically, the couch still looks pretty good for a piece of furniture that’s over 20 years old. It doesn’t sit as well as it used to. Its cushions have sagged, and some of the stuffing has shifted around over the years. Its fabric has torn and been repaired. However, replacing it was pretty low-priority for our family — it fell into the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” category.
Then, the opportunity for new family room furniture fell into our lives. My grandma decided to move, and she wasn’t going to keep her living room set. Her matching couch, loveseat and chair are much newer and larger than this apartment-sized sectional, and moving them in would give our growing family a lot more room when hanging out together. (Plus, Grandma has good taste in furniture… her set is almost the same shade of tan as our old couch!) I was excited about the opportunity to upgrade our family room for my favorite price — free.
As we prepared to move Grandma’s set into our house, we took the pieces of the old sectional apart and stacked them by the door, ready to move to the curb. As our children watched us vacuuming the room, moving end tables, and preparing for the “new” furniture’s arrival, all three children started to mope. We saw sad faces from the 7-year-old all the way up to the 19-year-old.
What was wrong?
All three kids lamented getting rid of the old couch. “What’s going to happen to it? Is it going to go into a garbage truck?” asked one of my sons.
“We shouldn’t just throw it away,” said the other.
I said “Guys, we have had many great years of sitting on this couch, but we’ve got a much newer, barely-used set coming in here soon. We’re getting a couch, a loveseat, and a big, plushy chair. We’ll have more room to spread out.”
“But the old couch has a sofa bed,” said my son.
He’s right — it does. And I do understand. All the kids are emotionally-attached to this couch. They’ve spent so many memorable nights on it camped out with milkshakes, movies and their favorite canine buddy:
They’re not the only ones who’ve made memories here either. I could post similar photos of my daughter and a half-dozen other teenage girls from her school sprawled out on its pull-out bed and its side recliner, with people even sleeping around the middle of the curve. (Of course, then the girls would know I have been taking photos of them after their game-and-movie nights. I’ll refrain.)
Suffice it to say that this couch has been lived on, lain on and loved.
I tried to reason with them. “The old couch sinks in the middle. It’s just not as comfortable as it used to be.”
My daughter said “I LIKE that it sinks in the middle. When my boyfriend and I sit on it, ‘oops!’ We slide together.”
“Even more reason to get rid of this couch,” I replied.
All three children expressed that we should find an appropriate home for the old couch. It shouldn’t go into the trash. We discussed taking it to Goodwill or putting a “come and get it” ad in our church’s newsletter.
Then, my teenager pointed out that she’ll be moving out in a couple of years. She asked where I got my first furniture when I moved out of my parents’ home. I told her that my first couch was actually a hand-me-down loveseat from another family member with vibrant 1980s paint-splash stripes. We reminisced over the fact that I used a folding card table and chairs as my kitchen dinette for over a year until I could afford something better. She pondered over the costs of setting up a new home.
Then, she asked if we could keep the old couch until she was ready to move out. She pointed out that a used couch that you know the history of is better than buying something at a thrift store with an unknown history. Our couch has never been pet-free, but it is smoke-free and is certainly bedbug-free too.
And that’s how I ended up with our old couch crowded into a corner of the basement. It’s sharing the space I use as my office, and although the area is now quite cramped, I don’t mind. The kids’ beloved couch will live on and create new memories in a new location someday… just as their great-grandma’s furniture is now doing in ours.