Emigration List: The Bare Necessities

As I was going through recipes for Thanksgiving, I came across a small list from almost nineteen years ago. I always come across this list around this time of year, because I keep it in my recipe book. Which, the last couple of years, I only open around this time of year.

When I emigrated to America, I had my stuff packed and shipped. My things would be delivered about six weeks after my arrival. T had bought us a little house and I needed a few things for those six weeks. The things I felt I absolutely couldn’t do without.

It’s a small list. It’s heading: “What I need to take in my luggage”

Cutting board (It was my small, thin board for lightweight camping.)
Cookbook (That’s probably why the list ended up there.)
Cooking scales (Also tiny.)
1 pan
2 bowls
2 knives
2 forks
2 spoons
Paring knife
Soup ladle
Serving spoon
Miscellaneous toiletries
Tea light
2 tea mugs
Dutch music cassettes
Butterflies (My great-grandmother’s skirt weights for cycling. I was attached to them, so I didn’t want them to get lost or damaged.)
Little bronze milkmaid bell (Idem.)

Why I felt I had to take my cooking scale is a mystery. I hardly ever measure anything exactly and I don’t bake much.

I suppose I bought a teapot over here because a teapot would break in my luggage. Little did I know that I would be landing, on February 6, in 89 degree weather! My lifelong chain-drinking tea habit went out the window in a flash, never to really return again.

But here’s my point: this is the very small list of things–apart from clothes–that I felt I really couldn’t do without. It’s a good reminder that all the stuff we think we need is mostly redundant. Nice, but pure luxury.

8 responses to “Emigration List: The Bare Necessities

  1. I’ll share My ‘travel’ list: medications, toiletries, clean socks and underwear.
    And BOOKS, or my Ereader, yes I’ve bought one finally, and although there’s nothing like paper pages and the weight of a book in your hand, those little machines come in darn handy. I would normally be hauling a bag full of books with me on holiday! No more.


  2. I was brutal in getting rid of things when we moved. “Leave it all behind” was my mantra, although in some cases I think I was a bit too extreme. Still, what I left behind were mainly things of sentimental value that I occasionally wish I had here. It was surprising how easily we got by without much of anything, including much furniture, for more than a month.


    • As for furniture, T had bought a bed and mattress, we had his parents’ sofa from the seventies and two of my in-laws’ folding garden chairs.
      The funny thing about what I shiiped is that before leaving I thought there was a lot of my Dutch stuff I needed to feel more at home. But over the years I’ve gotten rid of practically everything. It’s not the things that were important after all.


  3. My emigration stash did grow. To NZ it was one large box (0.5m3) From NZ it was about double that volume. Still only 9 small boxes. It struck me then that a fair bit was the stuff that had come with me to NZ. Mostly stuff with dear memories. But it did teach me how little I really need to have to define me. Did not stop me from buy lots of new stuff though 🙂
    I remember talking to the shipping company and not insuring it. Basically no money could ever replace the stuff. If it was lost it was lost. It all arrived safely.


    • My stuff that I shipped was a LOT more than my little luggage list. Half a Mayflower truck full. Thousands of books, my Scandinavian shelving system, some antique furniture… But it’s all luxury in the end.Though I have no regrets bringing my shelving system. It’s the best!


  4. What a delightful reminder to bump into at this time each year . . . the less we have, the more time we have to enjoy what we have.


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