Family Treasures

Last Autumn I wrote that we threw out our guest room furniture during a frenzy of cleaning.  I felt a smidgen of guilt about it: even though the furniture was in bad shape, it had belonged to my great-grandparents.  However, I decided to quash that guilt (a rarity for me since I am very susceptible to guilt).

A few weeks later, my mother was planning to come visit after Thanksgiving and I helpfully alerted her to the fact that the guest room now has no furniture, so she would need to bring the inflatable bed.  I expected her to be a tad miffed. After all, we now had no place for her to sleep (brilliant tactic to deter guests or thoughtless, ungrateful child…you decide).  Truthfully, her reaction stunned me because she was really upset that I had thrown away family heirlooms (again, I reiterate that the furniture was falling apart, was an unusual size and would have cost more to repair than replace if we had liked the style).  I pleaded our case, but she sighed and declared:

My father always said it was the work of the next generation to destroy what came before

And that comment really pissed me off.  I don’t value something simply because of its age, ownership or monetary value.  I value something because it has meaning either to me or the previous owner, and I also think that I have the right to decide how I decorate my house and with what.

Since I sometimes think that my family perceives me to be cold and unsentimental, I thought I would show you a few things I do cherish from previous generations.

Glassware that was a gift to my father

Hope chest from my father's side of the family. I used it as a toy box as a child.

Jimmy's grandmother's rose china.

Jimmy's grandmother's rose teapot. I'm a sucker for roses and teapots.


Special plate from my mom's side of the family


My Mimi's ring. Pretty sure the stone is fake, but I have fond memories of playing in her jewelry.


These are just a few things.  I also have books, a turtleneck that belonged to my beloved TT (my father’s father) that I wear under a sweater, my great-grandmother’s box of costume jewelry and other odds and ends.   Sometimes I think I’m a bit like a magpie because I treasure a lot of “shiny” things (yes, I always wanted to be a princess), but they are all objects that are dear to me for various reasons.

Maybe I don’t define my family treasures the way others would, but my definition makes them no less special.  All I ask for is the right to find my own meaning.

What are some of your beloved family treasures and why?


  1. I love your family treasures! Furniture falling apart? Not a treasure. I’ve seen “Hoarders”. I KNOW.

    I love my grandmother’s brooches, the wedding quilt my in-laws gave us, the paintings and chandelier Darcy’s grandmother gave us, and the wedding china my parents gave us.

  2. Sometimes crap is just crap and not worth preserving. Unless I suppose you’re an archaeologist or something.

    You have some lovely heirlooms. It wasn’t fair for your mom to make this huge sweeping generalization and misinterpretation about your attitude towards your family based on that one decision.

    My one beloved family treasure is my diamond engagement ring. It was my grandmother’s engagement ring, and before that the stone was in one of a pair of diamond earrings that belonged to her mother. The other stone is in my mom’s engagement ring. I guess there is one other one although I’m not as emotionally attached to it – a small secretary desk that belonged to my husband’s grandfather’s brother, and was refurbished by another male relative (can’t remember now who). We bought it at a family auction that raises funds for the big every-four-years reunion.

  3. I have moved so many times that it is hard to hang on to stuff, so I just have one tiny thing from each of my grandparents that I’ve imbued with huge meaning. But I hear you on the guilt – I had a loveseat of my grandparents: an ugly, plaid, skirted loveseat — and a cat peed on it and it had to be trashed and OH, did I hear about it. To me (and to you, obviously) the stuff is only meaningful in the stories that it tells. Love this post, love the photos.

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