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Eric's Sunday Sermon; Hand Me Downs

Updated on October 25, 2016

Is the earth just one big hand me down?

And then what should we hand down?
And then what should we hand down? | Source

Used stuff?

There are some friends that I know quite well. Some I grew up with and some that I have known for over 35 years. This subject of hand me downs rarely comes up. For some reason, I suppose pride driven it is just not a manly man concept. And of course there are many who just would think the matter strange. And that he would be horrible to have clothes that you wear already having been worn by another. Maybe that is the way it is supposed to be, there is just no judgment to be passed however someone feels about it.

Let us assume there is a social stigma that is negative about families too poor to provide new clothing for their children. We should even try to respect that position. Or perhaps also a situation where the family was well enough off but stingy. And we cannot ignore that in some families some kids get new stuff and others do not. Parents are not perfect and children may need to be treated differently.

Before we go into the matter of social opinion of hand me downs, let us take a break and consider a very great saying for us tree hugging, naturalist environmentalists. “Only use what you must and then reuse it and then recycle it” Pretty good new age progressive environmentally responsible and it works to conserve our earth’s resources. “use, reuse, recycle”. I hope in this day and age we have respect for those folks who do their best to practice those principles. Hopefully that sheds some new light on hand me downs. Maybe we do not need to buy new just because we can afford to. Maybe the receiver of a hand me down should now stand tall and proud that he is helping us create a better less consumption oriented world.

Just rags, but put together with love is a prize!

Oh the grandeur of life.

Be as rich as you can be.
Be as rich as you can be. | Source

What is salvageable? Are you?

To get a little personal here I can relate my experience. I was extremely fortunate to be adopted into a large love family. I was number six of six. I wore a whole lot of hand me downs. And here is a little twist to how I viewed it. “Cool this is my big brothers and now I get it”. You see hand me downs are not destroyed ripped clothes, generally. Hand me downs are simply before being worn out the elder siblings have just grown out of it. Although in my age we also sewed ripped clothes. My wife was just amazed when I sat down with spectacles and stitched a piece of clothing.

One time my big brother and I conspired to get mom to buy him shoes that were already too small. What he got were new shoes, one right after another and I got nearly brand new shoes. Doggone it, I had stopped a growing spree, and so I still had to wait a year to use the shoes. Oh well, boys scheme and moms laugh. And I do think my mom did too. Here is a fun one. Back in my day growing up we had Levi jeans. I think maybe there were Wrangler’s also, came in basically two styles, grownups and children’s. So I would even get hand me downs from my 3 older sisters. Jackets and “go to church” clothes were almost always like brand new as they were used so infrequently. Fancy shorts were just not looked at the same as today and men seldom wore them. So any jeans ripped at the knees were cut off and a rope belt would make any size fit all.

The land I grew up on during the summers may dad named “La Casa Salvado”. My dad’s Jesuit background and med school and proximity and our cultural ties with Mexicans created a strange type what I call Lanish. Like Spanglish only with Latin as opposed to English. I mention this for 3 reasons. The translation of Salvado does not fit with the noun Casa. It was a pun. You could figure it to mean a house of salvage or a house of salvation. This was largely due to two things in my father’s way of thinking. Land was kept natural for 90%. And the cabin my dad built was built nearly entirely from salvaged things.

Bomb crates. During WWII bombs were crated in very sturdy wooden rectangular boxes. Near our home there was a place called Navajo Army Depot. This was where bombs were crated up for shipment overseas. The location was kind of remote, but near to two different sawmills. They needed a lot of lumber to crate up over a million bombs. Well when the war was over there were thousands and thousands of the crates for salvage. My father had this great idea that if you stacked the boxes just right they would make for perfect walls for a house, sturdier even that conventional framing. My grandpa was enlisted. He had been a carpenter for wooden things just like this during the war. He was a master carpenter. So he and my father built a large cabin doing just that, stacking these boxes. The walls are twenty feet high. The cabin is now well over fifty years old and still standing straight.

I will never forget my father telling me that my hand me downs were just like our home. Wow that made me proud.

For sure I am crazy, but I think raindrops are hand me downs from heaven.

A Piute Native American handed this down.

What a cool piece of art.
What a cool piece of art. | Source

Please receive the hand me downs with gratefulness.

Passed down from generation to generation. Now my young son has no one to hand his clothes down to. They are washed, folded and sorted. Then they are gratefully brought to the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) for donation.

When we speak of hand me downs our mind goes straight to clothing. Should it be so restrictive? It really comes from the concept to hand down. I was really not handed down religion. In my earlier years I attended. By middle school it was all my choice. I joined youth groups and I attended religious stuff. And this continued into college. My mother totally drifted away from religion. All my siblings are non-religious. Of all six of us we are spiritual in our own ways. But I was handed down something far more important than religion. I was handed down the gift to spend the time to figure out what I believe and why. To listen and try to understand different views, thoughts and beliefs.

Is the greatest hand me down of all a legacy of caring? Not just caring for someone or something. But rather careful in thought, word and deed. Full of care. Perhaps the greatest hand me down that ever was, was Christ’s legacy. Oh some may jump to support or dislike a “Christian Religion” legacy. But for me that was not what was handed down. Yes my mom and dad handed down to us children and grandchildren that old salvage cabin. And sometimes I slip up and think of that as the real hand me down. But the true gift of a hand me down can only be the gratitude of receiving it.

If we can hand down to others in such a way and spirit that causes them gratefulness in heart then they can learn to hand down to others that same gratitude. It is not only the thing that is handed down, at least I hope not. I would hope that gratefulness and caring are the greatest hand me downs of all. I pray to my Lord that I hand down to my children some of that that resides in the heart and if I am the most blessed man on earth perhaps they can be grateful for it and hand it on down.


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    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      21 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Amen to that.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      21 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Right on Lawrence, we like to give thanks for our gratitude. Gratitude of Gratitude

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      21 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      At first I thought you were talking about 'things' but at the end I realized it's all about 'attitude'

      As my beloved says "an attitude of gratitude"



    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      21 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you for the visit and sharing some memories.

    • profile image


      21 months ago

      Good sermon Eric. Hand me downs was a tradition in My Family. From older siblings to cousins. There was back then (Many Many Moons Back) no stigma attached. It all seemed to be quite natural. This was back in Bonny "Scotland". Your sermon brought back some memories of the Pleasant Kind. thanks.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      21 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Dora that is a great story. I am sure you cherish your hand me downs. I had a very best friend who just happened to be my sister's husband. When he died she passed a lot of good stuff down to me. It is a great way to remind me to think of him and pray for his soul everyday.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      21 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Hi Marlene it is very good to hear from you. I can just picture little girls handing a favorite dress - wonderful. I just kind of thought of a phrase we use with judges; The court handed down it's judgment. Excuse me that must come from a whole different history. But I for one surely appreciate all that my Lord hands down.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      21 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Linda my eldest is about 27 years older than my youngest. Oh my goodness do they cherish each other. And in fact as I think about it, my elder children do hand things down to my youngest. Books and stuffed animals and rocks are the norm. Funny but a rock kept by one for twenty years really is special. Thank you for coming by. Oh an by the way just two years ago my brother handed down a jacket that was too small for him, a little different but still cool.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      21 months ago from The Caribbean

      Eric, I was shopping a few days ago, and the Oriental store owner said to me, "I like your dress. Where did you buy it?" I cheerily told him, "Thank you; it's a hand me down." His response was "A hand me? What is a hand me? His Caribbean store clerk and I just burst into laughter, and I hope the clerk explained it, because I left laughing. I still wear hand-me-downs--lots from my late relatives who are leaving some really good pieces. Thank You, Lord.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 

      21 months ago from USA

      Oh, how I remember the days of hand-me-downs. Some things I enjoyed, like the pretty pink dress that my cousin handed down. I wore it for a year and then handed it down to a younger cousin. I wonder where that dress is now. But, you speak of a greater hand-me-down that I am truly grateful to have and that is the care of our loving Father.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      21 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thanks Ruby, I was a young poor professional type. But boy were we struggling. I had bought suits at Goodwill, they were nice but so out of style that it just didn't work. So my wife found a once a year charity gig in a upscale community where the clothes cost a few bucks more but were still in fashion. Both my elder daughters worked in a second hand store for a local church. Life is good with the right mindset.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      21 months ago from Southern Illinois

      There's nothing I like better than finding a jewel in a thrift store. I love buying name brands cheap. I consider it smart shopping. I would rather go to a yard sale than shop at Macys. I was the last kid of twelve. I should have gotten hand- me - downs, but they were all so much older and had left home when I arrived on the scene. What I did get were wonderful stories that I cherish. My mother never threw anything away, so that rubbed off on me. I save anything that can be used again. I also keep a bag that I add to often and give to the Helping Hands, an organization that gives to the needy. I have a granddaughter who would rather die than wear anything used, so times change but not the memories. I loved your look-back. You were loved, as was I.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      21 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, think of that winter coat as a big hug. When I think of my brother (who is 24 years older than me) I remember that he was a letter carrier (mailman). When I was hospitalized at age 7, he asked to have his route changed to the area near the hospital so that he could come in and visit me every day while our mom was at work. At the time I didn't realize what a big deal that was (though I was sure happy to see him), but now I understand .

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      21 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very cool Bill, I never thought of my adoption like that. But wow what a great perspective. I wonder if I loved that great winter coat from my brother as much as he loved me.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      When I saw the title I immediately thought of me, an adopted kid, a throwaway hand me down . . . and hey, I turned out all right, so there you go!!!!!

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      21 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Whonu, we have this great extended adopted family here. And I just got to thinking about all our swapped hand me downs from clothes to toys to joys. I think we all have just mutually decided to leave underwear and socks out of the mix;-)

      You definitely constantly hand down to me your love of life and feelings.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      21 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      John, you just reminded me that my mom, for a few years, owned an Antique store. It is strange now but my wife does not like them as she just thinks of antiques as used.

      My daughter just a week ago, after I complimented her on her outstanding hard work, said "I got it from you and mom". And all this time I felt guilty that I worked to much and missed out on more family time. Thank you for getting me to think deeper on that concept.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      21 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Wow Mel that is some deep thought. For some strange reason I jumped right to the concept that some times we open the door for someone to get in and sometimes to get out. Oh my the trouble I got into - just two times - that I failed to race ahead and open the door.

      I am willing to bet that in handing down such a habit, you at least handed down the notion or politeness and caring.

      Hey we got rain over here for about 20 minutes on Monday. First in 5? months.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      21 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Bronwen, thank you for reminding us of those times. Maybe I should have changed this to "gift me downs". And I was just think about my two eldest siblings one sister and one brother. Now they never go hand me downs. But they seem to have the same appreciation about them. Maybe just a family aura.

    • whonunuwho profile image


      21 months ago from United States

      Thank you for sharing this sermon today Eric. If not for those "Hand Me Downs" We, as kids, would have done without. These gifts are some of the most heartfelt ones in our lives. Blessings. whonu

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      21 months ago from Queensland Australia

      This was a great sermon, Eric. As a child I was the eldest in the family so never had hand me downs. There was four years between each of my own sons so they didn't get many either, but now as an adult I often buy jeans from second hand stores (if I find a pair in good condition that fit) and we recycle as much as we can in regard to furniture and stuff like that.

      I think the greatest hand me down to our children is our ethics and hopefully that helps them become better people. As writers we also have a responsibility to hand down our ideas and opinions on what may make this world a better place, and uplift our fellow humans whenever possible. You do a great job of that.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      22 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Linda thank you for joining us with your always thoughtful comments. I am working toward an idea that sentiment and actual love can be related through things. I am a die hard anti-materialist. But things with sentiment attached seem to transfer.

      This may sound strange but the basis of this is formed in the mystery of the communion. Transformation of a thing.

      I am working on it so your thoughts have helped me.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      22 months ago from San Diego California

      Your sermons are deep spiritual wells that surpass mere philosophy. I was handed down the habit of opening doors for others. Now that I work at the airport I have to forget that politeness and slam doors in people's faces, or I'll lose my badge. Do you suppose handing down is about opening doors in a metaphysical sense?

      Hope you have a great day in the semi-soggy Sprung Valley.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

      22 months ago from Victoria, Australia

      What an interesting topic. Having been born near the end of the Great Depression, our family was very careful. Dad had a job, but we saved to help those who had lost theirs. It was an honour to receive hand-me-downs and we cared for them and then handed them on, too.

    • manatita44 profile image


      22 months ago from london

      Nice work and one you seem to approach from inner and outer angles. I am first born and don't remember much, but perhaps I got some stuff from my grandfather, who knows. Not all like things are 'passed on,'but again, in one form or the other, whether it's a lesson or a piece of equipment, most of us have been given something.

      Service through Gratitude and Loving is indeed commendable. I do not know that they are 'handed down' although I am with you there, but they are more of an inspirational bit of service to the receptive or aspiring Soul. Wholesome Hub.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      22 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, both of my parents were young adults with families of their own during the Great Depression. The phrase "use it up, make it do, or do without" was a way of life for them. Nothing went to waste. And of course you have no doubt heard about the massive recycling effort during the 2nd World War--even toothpaste tubes were collected and the metal melted down and re-used.

      My husband's parents were a bit younger, but they too lived during the Depression and were very frugal indeed. And that value was passed down to both of us, and we have extended the philosophy to our daughters.

      I had never thought of anything other than "things" being handed down, so you have really given me something to think about today. Yes, recycling is important--I think it is vital to our survival to eliminate waste and prevent the massive pile-up of stuff in our landfills. But the greatest 'hand-me-down' we can give to our children is not the desire to conserve "things". The heart hand-me-downs are the most important. Teaching them love, devotion, humility, and kindness.

      Thank you for another beautiful hub.


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