Have you ever strolled through a dusty and cluttered antique shop and wondered who were the original owners of all the items on the shop’s shelves? An oil lamp, a well-read family Bible, a handmade log cabin quilt, a smoke stained pipe standing upright in its hand carved wooden pipe rack – these are the sorts of eclectic things that you can find in any antique shop.
As a personal historian, I too have looked at and pondered over these items. I then look closely at the hand-written price tags, which often tell me little or nothing about where an object came from.
I try to imagine who once used the old glass oil lamp in days long gone by. Maybe the first owner used that oil lamp to better see the tiny printed words of sacred Scriptures while their legs were snuggly covered by a hand made quilt. Perhaps the reader sat in a one-room, sparsely furnished cabin in the Shenandoah Valley or in a Victorian mansion in northwest Washington DC. It’s hard not to wonder what was going on in the world when these particular items were being used. My imagination runs wild with curiosity.
Each of these old pieces indeed belonged to a person or a family. The item may have been passed down by a generation or two and somehow this cherished heirloom became separated from its story.
So how does this apply to you? Well, we all have a story to tell, to preserve and to share with the next generation. Many of us have been fortunate enough to have family heirlooms, which once belonged to our grandparents or maybe even great grandparents. If we do not write down the details of our heirloom, this information will be lost in time and maybe our treasured heirloom will even end up on a dusty, glass shelf of an antique shop!
Consider the value of identifying your family heirlooms. This is a gift of connectedness that keeps on giving – generation after generation.
So take a few minutes of your day, dust off that lamp, and start the identification process today.
In my next post, I’ll be showing some of my own heirlooms, and how I’ve recorded their stories. Stay tuned! In the meantime, leave a comment below with stories about your family’s heirlooms. What items do you cherish, and why?