This Holiday, Choose Peace:
Just Say NO to Intergenerational Drama with these Tips for Passing Down Heirlooms
Is time speeding up, or maybe I’m just getting older? Regardless, it seems impossible that we’re gearing up for the holidays already, but here we are! The Halloween candy and decor are already being discounted, so Thanksgiving can’t be far behind.
With the onset of the season, I’m thinking about the ideas of “family” and “tradition.” With all the conflict and strife in the world today, the meaning of those words are shifting. We lovers of history may be worrying about things we cherish and hold dear; we fear that precious parts of life that we know to be so real and vital will be lost. If we’re honest with ourselves, we know that certainly, some will.
The Elephant-Sized Heirloom in the Room
In the spirit of unity and levity, let’s discuss a point of contention that I see often in families. I’ll put it bluntly: your kids/grandkids don’t want your stuff. Or, conversely, you don’t want the stuff that you know is coming your way.
A few points to consider
- What REALLY Matters. First of all, take a breath and remember what’s important. The family, the love, and the memories. The objects themselves are wonderful, cherished, and beloved – but must they remain exactly as they are for all time to remain important for the family?
- Heirlooms Can Have Eternal Life in the Digital Cloud. One great thing about the age in which we live is the ease with which things can be documented and saved digitally for later generations. While this may sound like a daunting feat, Heirloom Vault makes it incredibly easy – even for people who may not be so tech-savvy. So no matter the object, document, or item, you don’t need to worry that it will be lost forever if there’s no one looking forward to the responsibility of caring for them.
- Do You Want Your Heirlooms to Be a Burden or a Joy? Professional organizer Candi Ruppert writes that it’s important to manage family expectations in these situations. “Perhaps the toughest thing to deal with is managing expectations about family heirlooms. Items that have been in the family for decades are automatically passed down to the next generation…whether they like it or not. Obviously, there are many family heirlooms that are truly treasured and gratefully accepted. However, there are also heirlooms that younger generations accept out of a sense of duty, guilt, or without even being asked if they want.”
- Keep an open mind. It may make you feel uncomfortable to consider, but what if you allowed the destiny of the heirlooms in question to be a little more, shall we say, creative? In a fun post by decorator Linda Merrill, she suggests some fresh ways to use family heirlooms (spoiler alert: you may have a knee jerk reaction against some…keep an open mind!)
Finally, remember that you can rest easy – your heirlooms and their stories can be meticulously preserved digitally, just as you like. And if, for instance, your grandchild wants to make cufflinks out of your grandma’s diamond earrings, ask yourself if you’d rather the earrings stay in the family, treasured and enjoyed, or stay at the back of a drawer, or worse, leave the family altogether?