Updated: Jul 11
My mom and I aren’t necessarily two peas in a pod. Although we love each other dearly and I consider her one of my closest friends, we have lots of differing view points including what to do with those family heirlooms. She treasures them all and believes that the more the merrier. Each holds a memory, a connection with the past. For me, I see little value in most “heirlooms”. I know, it sounds cold. But, as a millennial, what I value is just simply different from what my parents do.
This difference of opinion can and will cause conflict within a family. It can also lead to some hurt feelings. But it doesn’t have to. Lately I have begun seriously considering how I can best share my feelings with my mom and how I can also honor and appreciate her own views. This led me to realize that the most important way to find peace surrounding family heirlooms is by being honest, finding common ground and having some frank discussions now rather than waiting for that someday. So this is an open letter to my own mom, Sally.
I love you , love you, love you. And I also love how much time you have taken to preserve the many family heirlooms we have. Here are four things I would truly appreciate:
1. Things that are useful
Millennial’s are practical people. We don’t want our homes filled with knick-knacks and spoon collections and a million photos. We want family treasures we can actually use in our day-to-day lives. I would love a vintage ice bucket for the million birthday parties I host. An old rocking chair I could sway the babes to sleep in. A vintage chest that would make for an awesome coffee table. Never underestimate the practicality of your treasures. They don’t make things like the use to so I would love something that not only holds a memory but could also serve a true purpose in my life.
2. Things that can be repurposed
Millennial’s love a good DIY project. I enjoy taking something vintage and making it super cool. And Pinterest offers an ample supply of great ideas. I would love heirlooms that I could repurpose into something else. An old chest into a coffee table. Vintage milk bottles into vases. My grandma’s old doilies into a cool art piece. And don’t be afraid that I will “ruin” them. Let me transform it into something I will love while still enjoying the memory behind it.
3. Things with a great story
I don’t want every china plate, dress and porcelain collectible that was in the family just because. I want to know the stories behind them too. Tell me the tales of how grandma painted a certain picture or grandpa brought this vase back from Germany when he was stationed there during WWII. I value the memories you can share about my family often more than even the items themselves. Share with me those great stories behind the heirlooms.
4. Things that fit our unique style
Mom, I have my own style, my own taste. I would love to choose heirlooms that fit my own design and would look great in my home or be fantastic to wear. Don’t be hurt that what you love, I am not so keen on. We aren’t the same people so let me find things that I will love and cherish. I don’t need a dozen necklaces of Grandma’s. I just need one that I love and would wear all the time. China is wonderful but only if I will use it. Let me discover my own special treasures and I promise I will cherish them forever.
Mom, know that I love you and I love my grandma and my grandpa and my great aunts and great uncles. Not wanting something of theirs will never dim the care I have for them and for you. I would love to take an afternoon to share a cup of coffee and go through the family heirlooms together. To hear the stories behind that goofy picture or that scary porcelain doll you love. Help me choose some pieces that could help me keep their memory in my heart and allow me to share their legacy with my kids one day. Most of all, know that the time spent together sharing these stories and memories will be one of the best family heirlooms you could ever gift me.
With Love Always, Katie