The burden and blessing of family heirlooms

Over the last two and a half years my sister and I have had two bigs jobs to do. We lost our mother and our aunt, and we had to sift through their personal items to identify what was worth saving, and what we could live without. I say live without, because we loved both of these women. Throwing out the personal items of people you love is not easy.

After my mother passed away, I desperately wanted to move into a house. I thought it was a solution to a lot of issues, like throwing away your money on rent, but also a way to save my mom’s furniture and keepsakes. So Patrick and I bought a house, and I filled it up with family heirlooms my mom had acquired and kept. I felt like I was fulfilling my duty to the family, to the family members who had passed away. I’ll be the keeper of the family heirlooms. It was a good thing I was doing! So I took in a three-piece dining room set, a giant roll top desk, two tallboy dressers, a bench, two beds, three sets of china, decades of holiday decorations, and family photos.

This week, my sister and I went to my mother’s old house to retrieve old family photos. I opened up an album of photos and found a picture of my mother standing next to the same three piece dining room set that I have in my dining room of my new house. She was young and had just gotten married. My dad inherited the furniture from his grandmother and moved it into their marital home. After my parents divorced ten years later, my mom kept her promise as the keeper of the heirlooms and held onto the dining room set for fifteen more years.

My mother never wanted the three-piece  dining room set. Growing up, she always told me to get my own furniture one day and decorate my home the way I wanted, because she never had that opportunity. She let herself be weighed down by other people’s history and other people’s stuff. Am I doing this too?

Yes, I am letting other people’s stuff weigh down choices that I want to make. In four months I’m going to have a baby, and I want to change my dining room into a comfy sitting room for me and the baby. But I have to get rid of the three-piece dining room set that belonged to my great grandmother to do so. Is that okay?




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