Book Excerpt: 'Stories From Candyland'

I love to give one-of-a-kind gifts. There's a wonderful store in Los Angeles that makes handmade personalized candles designed to be burned once a year for the first twenty-one years of a boy or girl's life. I received them for my children, and love to give them to other people for their blessings. My favorite gifts are those pertaining to something the recipient is interested in. That can be a book about a favorite subject, or a part of an antique collection. I like to surprise people with unexpected and unusual gifts.

If a colleague of Aaron's liked eighteenth-century paintings, he was confident he could call and I had one waiting to be wrapped and messengered. How about an antique clock? Got 'em. A duplicate Lalique piece that I didn't need for my own collection? Sure. Fountain pens when people gave them for graduation presents? What color?

There's also a kitchen equipment section. Aaron and I had various chefs at different stages of our life. When we entertained a lot, we had a chef who liked to cook for big groups. If we decided to eat healthy food only (which we rarely did), we'd hire a macrobiotic cook. There's an expert for everything in L.A., and cooks who specialize.

The result was a lot of turnover in kitchen appliances, tools, pots, pans, bowls, and everything else a chef uses. So, when a new chef would come in with his or her list of necessities for my kitchen, we would move the last group of expensive former necessities to the attic. I always hoped that one chef would like what we'd bought for the last one. Nope. Who knew there were so many different kids of waffle irons and spice racks?

I'm trying to be mature as I tell myself, and anyone who'll listen, that it's time to downsize. I know people make fun me for saying I'm downsizing to 17,000 square feet. That's a very large home, and I'm grateful to be able to have it.

Even if I just give away everything in the attic, I'll still have more than three times as much stuff as my new home will hold.

I don't think self-storage is the answer. Actually, one of those companies might want to talk to the new owner of The Manor about leasing space.

Yes, I'm going to be mature and businesslike and figure out how to downsize. I have to be less like a sentimental wife, mother, and grandmother and more like a corporate efficiency expert. It might work. I have hardhats, clipboards, and tape measures stored in the attic, too, so I won't have to buy anything new to take on that new job.

That's the math.

Excerpted from Stories from Candyland by Candy Spelling. Copyright © 2009 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin's Press, LLC.

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