Legit Family Heirlooms

I got an early birthday present this holiday weekend.   I am so, so excited!

Box Of Vintage Ornaments

Box Of Vintage Ornaments– These Are SO EXCITING!

I know that everyone covets the pieces that have been in their family for generations, that’s how these things become heirlooms.  Grandmama wouldn’t have passed on her painted porcelain pie server or her smooth linen tablecloth if it hadn’t been special to *her,* so it is no surprise that a lot of the goodies lovingly handed to the next generation are already of *some* value, emotional connection aside…  Actual monetary value, I guess I’m saying.  The kind of monetary value you don’t ever consider pursing, because the familial connection is more valuable.  I myself have a few pieces that are considered family heirlooms, most of them classically elegant pieces from my father’s side of the family.

A little history would be important here:  My father is the oldest of five children born from two California schoolteachers.  My mother is the youngest of five children, born from a coal miner/ constable and his uneducated wife in the mountains of East Tennessee… Mom was then orphaned before she turned two, making for a very different hardscrabble survival for her and her siblings.  They didn’t have much *then,* so there are practically no tangible souvenirs of that life, and I don’t own any of them.  (Yet.)  Coming from the world that she did, and with so few heirloom pieces from her side, all of the antiques that have been handed down from my father’s side have been lovingly cared for in the hands of my mother.  She wisely made the connection that these things would be passed to my children, and she has made every effort to maintain their grace and beauty.  It has almost been as if she has desired to give my sister and I *extra* elements from Dad’s side, since she knows that the beautiful pieces from her side are few and far between.

Chinese Lantern Light Covers

Box for Chinese Lantern Light Covers

From my father’s family I already own a few things:  an art nouveau, bird’s eye maple chest-of-drawers from my great great grandfather’s furniture store; a child’s shaker rocking chair; several small green and yellow McCoy pots; a really beautiful Irish linen tablecloth with the finest clover weavings…  there are recipes, and a few snapshots, my grandpa’s black leather coin purse.  I definitely love and respect these things from my Dad’s relations.  Now perhaps these things would not have much value on ebay, and they may not even be the things I would *choose* if I got to go back and time and shop amongst their things, but they are sweet reminders of my family, and that is enough for me to love them.  (Okay, yeah, I would totally choose those McCoy pots, but you get what I’m saying.)

The Lantern Light Covers

The Lantern Light Covers

I suppose all of this is to say:  there are some family heirlooms that we are simple stewards of, in the sense that their previous importance is enough to maintain their current value to us; and then there are heirlooms that we are *excited* about, pieces from familial past that we cannot believe we have the good fortune to inherit.  I would like to think that my jubilation over owning some of these items maybe even adds to the value of them, perhaps….

Case in point– these vintage ornaments I inherited this weekend.  These belonged to my husband’s father’s mother– Nanny Margaret.  Just judging the way that they have been lovingly packed away all of these years, many in their original boxes (or fifty year old egg cartons!) suggests that she loved them…  I know that eventually they will be passed on to my son, making him the fourth generation to hang these bright baubles up onto his tree– isn’t that fun?  Another reason for me to take good care of them.  I can fast-forward thirty years and imagine him saying, “These were my great grandmother’s, but my Mom ADORED them.”

But there is another element of love to these ornaments– I collect Shiny Brites and vintage ornaments.  For me to have the good fortune to inherit something I already collect– boy howdy, ya’ll, I can hardly describe it!  This weekend, my father-in-law graciously gave me a box of not just ornaments– but ten of the most spectacular handpainted glass ornaments I have ever seen!  I also got a fistfull of colorful striped and “noel” bedecked smaller Shiny Brites, and an entire box of these amazing miniature Chinese lanterns.  I don’t think I’ve ever been more after my husband to get the tree up and the lights on it in my *life!*

Smaller Glitter-Frosted Ornaments

Smaller Glitter-Frosted Ornaments

(The cool Chinese lantern ornament thingies are supposed to slip over the bulbs in a regular strand of lights… I may eventually get them on a tree, but for the moment I am sooo tempted to use a few for doll scenes!  They are *perfect!*)


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