Whenever I see The Antiques Road Show, I am impressed by how many people have cherished heirlooms. American chairs from the 1700s, passed down through the generations; guns, letters and jackets from the Civil War; German porcelain or French silverware someone’s great great grandfather brought home after World War I; a doll or a diamond brooch left by a great great great aunt.
The stories attached to many of these antiques are as fascinating as the items themselves. They reveal history in a way text books can’t.
My family isn’t known for its heirlooms. If my great grandmother had something dear to her that she saved, my grandmother or mother threw it out or gave it away. And if my grandmother had something she loved, my mother, my sisters or I ditched it.
When my mother died two years ago, she had a brooch from her mother with my name–and the names of her other grandchildren–engraved on the back. I was going to save it, even though I didn’t even like it, but one of my sisters encouraged me to sell it for the gold, which I did. We are not an especially sentimental bunch when it comes to worldly possessions.
I’ve discarded or given away things that I wish I’d kept, however, including the gorgeous baby sweaters my mother made for my kids. On the other hand, I have saved some things that are dear to me, even if they’d never be worthy of a starring role on The Antiques Road Show. One of them is a small while plaster sculpture of a seated man playing a trombone, with his overturned hat filled with money, that my daughter created in grade school. Another is a note my son tucked into the roses he gave me one mother’s day that says: “To a fantastic mother and amazing friend. I love you.”