Grandpa's Pickle Jar
In life’s busy shuffle today, family heirlooms may be forgotten, neglected, or even lost. It is absolutely appropriate to take pictures of your family heirlooms and tell the story of their origins and what they mean to you, and include this information in your personal or family history.
“Things,” though they don’t last forever, and can’t be taken with us when we die, are still part of our mortal experience. We need some “things,” (though surprisingly few) to survive. To make music, we need instruments—or a singing voice. To lift our spirits, free our creativity, or beautify our surroundings, we make or acquire lovely or curious things. Some of those things are passed on to us by our posterity, and become heirlooms. They may have some special story attached, or were given to our ancestor by a special person.
I have an old English pickle jar in my china hutch. If I take a picture, write about it, and include it in my personal history, my children and posterity will be able to do more than wonder about it. They will know what it is and that it came from my grandfather in Hythe, Kent, England.
The other day, my son asked me about my old worn-out bear with the missing ear. I was surprised to find out that he didn’t know her name is Matilda, and she came from his grandmother. I’ve had that bear with me since I was nine years old. She hasn’t got much more life left in her, so I took pictures of her. Her story is that she’s been with me through thick and thin, and also saw my mother through her whole life. Potter’s Velveteen Rabbit has no more grand story.
Matilda, the One-Eared Bear
There is an heirloom I’m particularly fond of that came from my grandmother, which belonged to my mother. It’s a leaf bowl with a figurine that stands in the center of a pair of herons or flamingos. It’s so characteristic of the fifties! When I look at it, it reminds me of my mother and her living room, and what it was like living in the fifties.
My step-mother crocheted a beautiful blessing dress for my youngest sister. It hangs in a glass-framed shadowbox at the end of her bedroom hall. A peak down that hall gives the viewer a “Wow” experience. It hasn’t been passed anywhere yet, and it’s already a family heirloom.
Heirlooms speak of family skills, acquisitions, and values.
Heirlooms translate to memories.
Mama's Fifties Bowl and Figurine
What are your favorite family heirlooms? Tell us about them in the comment section.