Preserving Our Personal Heritage

 Our Stuff

This week two seemingly uneventful things occurred and converged into some interesting thought and introspection.  I was sorting through some boxes of personal items that I had collected and saved from my early years, and later in the week I went to a favorite antique mall to wander and enjoy.

 My precious boxes contained, in particular, linen handkerchiefs that were embellished with crocheted edges lovingly made in rainbow colors by my maternal grandmother.  Every Easter, my sister and I received these beautiful lacey treasures from Nana to put in our Sunday purses.  There were at least a dozen, clean but not ironed or folded in the particular way Nana did.  I caressed each and put them back in the box. 

 Later, as I walked through the vendor stalls that capture and display bits of the past, I had the usual responses – thoughts as to why someone would abandon these precious things to be purchased by perfect strangers, and to reminisce about familiar items that reminded me of a part of my childhood and heritage.

 As I sat here sipping a martini with four olives (veggies, an important part of the food triangle) I had a horrible thought!  More than likely, my beloved handkerchiefs would ultimately end up in an antique mall or in a land fill.  Having two sons, I never shared the story of my handkerchiefs with them, as you can imagine.  BUT – Now, I do have two granddaughters of my own.  As they are getting a little older, perhaps it is time to share the handkerchiefs and stories with them.  Then maybe,  just maybe their great grandmother’s handkerchiefs won’t end up in an antique mall for perfect strangers to wonder about.

 The moral of this story is to take every opportunity to share your precious items and memories with the next generation or at least put a short family history with the items so that when the time comes they can make their own judgment as to whether to keep or get rid of your precious stuff – and boy do I have stuff – my stuff and stuff from others. 

 We inherited many old items from my husband’s family home and unfortunately there is no family history to attach to some of them.  I know that his Mom and Dad were antique shop devotes, collecting the histories of others.  What are actually his family’s heirlooms, and what belonged to strangers is not clear.  Too bad – the cycle will probably continue.

 My mission is to start putting stories with our precious things or give them to the younger family members along with the history so that some day, maybe just maybe they will lovingly remember.

Ever curious,



Preserving Our Personal Heritage — 3 Comments

  1. I am involved in this very project now. I will turn 70 in April. I am making a Heritage Journal for myself and one for each of my children. In these journals I have used old photos and handmade objects and personal jewelry, when available. I am also passing on the jewelry that was left to me from my mother and grandmother. In the next couple of years, I plan to pass on the photos of relatives dating back to the late 1800,s with any information I have about them written on the back of each photo. I am also passing on stories from my childhood. This project will probably take a few years to accomplish, but by the time I am 75 (Lord willing) I plan to complete this. I think it is a worthwhile task. Like you, I have many photos from my husband’s family with no history. What a shame.

    • Hi Judy,

      What a great idea – a Heritage Journal for each child. I have been working on our family tree for some time but that is just names, places and dates. Adding photos and tangible elements in journal form would really bring it alive. I have painted all kinds of keepsake boxes for everyone else but my own children – hmmmmmmmmmmmmm! Better get on it.
      Thanks very much and good luck with your project. Keep me posted.

  2. My husband recently urged me to make some sort of file or journal of photos of objects in our home and what their significance was. I have many family objects around and he hasn’t paid attention to what their importance is. I also delve into the family tree search on and off and sometimes, when you don’t have a tangible item, like a photo, you can put that person’s life in perspective with a national or world event such as wars, famines or discoveries. The website: helps you imagine a person’s life a bit better. You can put in the dates they lived and it will list a series of events and what age they were when it occurred.