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Heirlooms and Memories-Share the History

Updated on December 28, 2016
My Uncle Raymond made this bird feeder. It's an heirloom put to good use through a snowy winter.
My Uncle Raymond made this bird feeder. It's an heirloom put to good use through a snowy winter. | Source

Heirlooms and Memories-Share the History by Diana Pierce

When is an heirloom most valuable to you? An heirloom is not always worth the price your local antique dealer wants to give you. The history and memories of an object is priceless. Your heritage gives it a whole new set of values as the treasure takes its place among your most prized processions. Sometimes holding on to things can be a bit overwhelming as they take up space needed for much more important things, but a few items surely will not cramp your living quarters. Perhaps turning the items into the décor of your room by placing them on a wall or shelf will do the trick.

My grandmother, Katherine painted this picture of my Uncle Ervin's sugar shanty in 1984. I proudly display this on my living room wall.
My grandmother, Katherine painted this picture of my Uncle Ervin's sugar shanty in 1984. I proudly display this on my living room wall. | Source

Family Treasures with a Personal Touch

With my grandparents, parents and other loved ones long gone, a few treasures they left behind make them seem much closer to me and this is very important when searching my memory banks for those happy recollections I hold so dear. I certainly value every memory.

I have things people have made that are unique and priceless to me. A blanket with Goldilocks and Three Bears, appliquéd on it made for me when I was a baby by my maternal grandmother has become a precious keepsake. It’s a keepsake that has been stored away in a tote for many years. I really need to display it and I have thought about getting a shadow box or poster frame to see if that would work without exposing it to the elements of household dust and odors. I have a doll quilt and a crocheted rag rug that my paternal grandmother made that could also be displayed this way. Perhaps I could write a little history about these items and tape them on the back of the frame or place it in the corner on the front for easy viewing. Personal treasures are priceless.

Not much can be more personal than something given directly to the receiver. I have paintings my maternal grandmother did and crocheted hats she made. All the things she made were intended for her kids and grandchildren to enjoy. I have old framed family pictures I remember my paternal grandmother displaying on her walls and I was given a stash of her fabric pieces she had saved over the years by a dear aunt who held on to them. I have made many heirlooms from that vintage fabric collection by covering photo albums with it. Making heirlooms of our own can be as simple as that.

Homemade items are extra special to me like a toy chest, a rocking chair and birdhouses made by my uncles. They put much pride in their work and the love they shared is priceless. I guess this is why I enjoy making things myself. I may not have inherited a lot of talents, but I enjoy trying to be creative. Even items made with a few defects are special because of love and effort put into them.

This is a photo album I covered for my nephew's wedding using some of the vintage fabric that my grandmother Sadie had.
This is a photo album I covered for my nephew's wedding using some of the vintage fabric that my grandmother Sadie had. | Source
My paternal grandparents...
My paternal grandparents... | Source
This is an old picture of a family reunion on my mother's side of the family.
This is an old picture of a family reunion on my mother's side of the family. | Source

Making our own Heirlooms

I still display art work my youngest granddaughter did two years ago on a closet door. I hope this helps encourage her to do more. I have folders I have kept artwork in that the older grand-kids did when they were little. They will surely get a kick out of reviewing them later in life. Perhaps they can put them in a frame for display on their own wall or use them for a backdrop in a collage of old snapshots and school pictures. There are many possibilities when it comes to making heirlooms to keep memories fresh in our minds.

Perhaps making homemade gifts is the best gifts one could give. When kept for safe keeping the item becomes a piece of history. A personal piece of history passed down for generations to keep memories of loved ones alive forever. Hobbies become much more than hobbies and can reveal extraordinary reasons to do whatever we do best and preserve it. Preserve it for the next generation.

Granddaughter Leah's artwork hangs on the closet door in my entry way. It tickles her every time she sees it.
Granddaughter Leah's artwork hangs on the closet door in my entry way. It tickles her every time she sees it. | Source
Heirloom houseplants serve as memorials.
Heirloom houseplants serve as memorials. | Source

Living Heirlooms

Trees as well as plants serve as heirlooms. Perhaps a loved one planted a tree or gave you a house plant. Either will serve well as memorials to honor their memory. My husband planted many trees on our property. Some of these trees were started from seedlings that his brother brought from the woods where he was working a logging job. Both men have now passed on. The trees will live for hundreds of years if left untouched by man and force of nature. I have two special houseplants, one my mom saved from certain death by reviving a champagne pink geranium I had left outside and abandoned. A beautiful plant now that I have slipped off many times for other family members as a keepsake from my mom. The second plant is an elephant ear/angel wing begonia my Aunt Lila gave me. It has pretty pink blossoms and is serving as a memorial to her. Heirlooms such as these are priceless treasures. But only to those that know their value and where they originated from.

Trees my husband, Bill planted that his brother Luke had brought him seedlings from the deep woods.
Trees my husband, Bill planted that his brother Luke had brought him seedlings from the deep woods. | Source

Heirlooms with an Untold Story

I have a child’s size wash board. It was given to me by a friend or possibly a relative of my grandmother and step grandfather back in the early sixties. This lady was born in 1879 and she told me she washed her doll clothes with it when she was a little girl. This dates this particular toy back over a hundred years and it is a priceless treasure to me. I only ever met the lady once, but I’ve kept the wash board all this years. Sadly I know very little about the lady other than her name and area she lived in. I do know she must have thought very much of my grandparents for her to give me such a gift. Old cemetery records helped me discover what I do know about her. I figure she must have been at least eighty when I met her and she lived to be eighty-nine years old according to the records I found. I also discovered a possible maiden name. Interesting stuff that I wish I would have checked into years ago. Why I never asked more questions about her I don’t know and if I did I don’t remember the answers.

Wash board I was given from my grandmothers' friend, Emma.
Wash board I was given from my grandmothers' friend, Emma. | Source

Preserve Memories One Story at a Time

The older I get the more I find the importance in preserving memories. My dad was a great story teller. Old stories shared are valuable heirlooms as long as anyone passes the story along. I try to write down as much as I can remember of these stories before they are lost forever. I know someone someday will want to know about the good ole days before this fast paced world went hay wired. One story, one image, one memory at a time will do just fine in bringing history of our own heritage to light. If we manage to have a special heirloom to share as our show and tell moments commence then that is an added treasure. Cherish it.

These are some doll blankets that I made for the little girls on my Christmas list. Creating our own heirlooms can be fun.
These are some doll blankets that I made for the little girls on my Christmas list. Creating our own heirlooms can be fun. | Source

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    • Diana Lee profile imageAUTHOR

      Diana L Pierce 

      20 months ago from Potter County, Pa.

      Thank you, Jackie and Happy Thanksgiving to you also.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      20 months ago from The Beautiful South

      I have actually seen a washboard like that but it has been a lot of years ago.

      Great piece with warm feelings. Thanks.

      Happy Thanksgiving!

      Jackie

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