Dear Helen Hartman,
As a fellow collector of vintage I think you are uniquely qualified to comment on an issue in my household. After going to so many estate sales I have to wonder – what will become of all my stuff when I am gone (not dead, but as soon as these kids are grown, Mama is downsizing to move to a Swingin’ Singles Condo). Mostly I fear that our personal family heirlooms might get lost among all my trinkets and treasures. Love some advice on how to keep what belongs to the family in the family.
Dear Loved One,
Collector-Schmollector. Helen is uniquely qualified to comment on ANYTHING anywhere.
|Everyone says I’m a real giver. Here, let me give you piece of my mind.|
Don’t believe me? Just try and stop me! But don’t do it before I share my thoughts on this subject. For things that have a long family connection, make an effort to record and share the history behind the object. Remember that we are connected not by our stuff but by our stories.
Like anyone, there are certain belongings I’d hate to have end up at flea market like the one we went to this past Saturday.
|Is it wrong to want to dress like a display dummy?|
I’d hate to think someone might one day do to the photos of my family what I am going to the people in the photos I bought.
|Add Caption? I believe I will. Everything is better with 'Caption' added!|
Was a bit rushed skimming through this suitcase filled with postcards, tin types, snapshots and not until I got home and looked at the four I ended up with did I notice they were clearly all from the same household. Of course, that led me to a whole new dilemma. Aside from sharing them here, what do I do with another family’s photos? You know what’s tempting?
|Tempting? To stab the next person who asks if I'm a 'Knit Wit' with my Jiffy needles?|
No, to slip these stranger's photos into the box with all our family pics and leave them as a mystery for whoever is left to sort things out. I might even create a fake history and jot a note on the back… what do you think?
|I think you're the kind of twisted puppy who displays the photos that come with the frames in order to impress people - because, let's face it, your real family ain't gonna make ANYONE jealous.|
Yes, I would do it. When my son was little and wanted a dog I told him that it was against the law for anyone to own a dog that hadn’t gone to kindergarten. When he told me his friends had dogs, I’d say “Well, they’re breaking the law, aren’t they?”. Then there was the time the kids asked why every antique mall and flea market (and grandmother’s house) had that same sepia toned picture of Jesus and me, big ol’ practicing Christian?
|Practicing. That means I still make a lot of mistakes. (an actual page from one of my childhood Sunday School books - proof that Helen has ALWAYS thought it was her mission to 'fix' things)|
I told my kids that was Jesus’ high school graduation picture. Everybody got one (we have one but someone packed it away this autumn and i can't find it - was that a way of getting back at me?). Messing with their minds? Naw. Just making life interesting by mixing things up a little. And that’s gonna be a whole lot easier with my amazing find…
|AHHH-AHHHH... I know you're hearing that chorus of angels aren't you?|
|Why don't more things come with an ejector button?|
What was your question again? How do you keep your family heirlooms from becoming MY heirlooms? You probably can’t. If whoever you leave them to decides the only thing worth hanging onto is a plastic Lion King Farting Warthog Christmas Ornament, there’s nothing you can do about it.
So why not do the most to enjoy your things and share them with your family now? After all, it's not the stuff but the love and memories that matter. If you give those to your loved ones, that’s the best inheritance of all.
PS to my kids- none of this applies to you. If you sell off any precious family mementos after I'm gone I will haunt you and just as in life… I will mess with your heads!