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Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Today's post is part of the Christian Writers blog chain. Our theme for November is "heirloom." Please click on the links to the right to see what my friends have to say about this theme.

Heirloom: A family possession passed down from generation to generation.

Like many folks our age, hubby and I are ready to downsize. We’ve said it for years, but we finally are walking the talk. That means trying to sell this enormous house that we have crammed full of "stuff."

It means getting rid of at least a third of the "stuff" we’ve accumulated over 34 years of marriage, two kids and six moves between two coastlines. It means finding a smaller house and hoping we have gotten rid of enough "stuff" that the rest will fit into the new smaller nooks and crannies.

Somewhere along the line, though, I became the holder of the family heirlooms.

All those family treasures passed down from generation to generation from my mother and father, my mother’s mother and father, my father’s mother and father, along with items from hubby’s family as well.

They were precious enough to have escaped the trash bin for over 100 years and have landed safely in my possession—some with little notes attached as to who was the original owner and a date of ownership, if known, such as:  "Carol’s mother’s mother’s aunt and uncle’s platter received on the occasion of their wedding 1829."

I carry some of these heirlooms with joy; others with a great burden. This was important to someone. This is of value. I am its protector.

But do I care? Do I have enough energy to be its steward for another 30 years? Who will care if I don’t?

What with china, baby clothes, tea towels, hand-embroidered linens, jewelry, toys, books and furniture entrusted to my care, plus my own soon-to-be heirlooms of infinite value (or not), it’s nearly to the point that if we got rid of all of our "stuff" except for the heirlooms, we still might not fit into our planned smaller home of our dreams.


Yet our children are not yet ready to receive the pass on of these heirlooms. The solution? It is time to allow some of these heirlooms to become heirlooms for others. Sold to the antique stores or on Craig’s list. Given to people outside the family who would appreciate their intrinsic value even if they do not understand the family meaning behind them.

Which brings the point to a head.

The value in heirloom "stuff" is not so much in the object as in the memories behind it; the love of the people who treasured them. If stories about the object can be handed down and can become part of the "heirloom," then they are of more value because the love behind it is what is treasured.

When going through heirloom "stuff," if there is a note attached, it usually gets packed back up and stuffed securely in a box. If an heirloom is uncovered without knowledge of where it came from, who originally owned it or without any reason why it might mean something to this generation, if it isn’t loved right now by this generation, it might have to become an heirloom for someone else’s family.

Because the value of an heirloom is often based on the love the object represents. I think my mother’s mother’s aunt and uncle would understand.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, sometimes we get caught up in the value the world places on our stuff. Please help us remember that—just as we should focus on storing up treasures in heaven—that more important than stuff is how we love other people. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Do you treasure family heirlooms? Do some of them make you feel burdened?


Pam B. said...

It is nice to have family treasures but it is also nice to have less stuff. Less stuff usually means less worry and less work.

From Carols Quill said...

@ Pam - yes. Less to have to take care of.

chris said...

I would say that you've nailed it here Carol, the perfect post inspired by where you are in life, the "perfect place" to write this one! Very profound, what you've shared here. My mom and dad are still very much the keepers of the family stuff... some of which has been toted around for several generations already. It is the love I now see it in, thanks :-)

From Carols Quill said...

@ Chris - Profound? Wow, thanks. Some days it's pretty hard to remember the love behind the objects, but things really can be symbolic representations of people and feelings, can't they?