I have been thinking recently about family heirlooms, and if they still exist, or if they have now become a thing of the past.
I was having a conversation with some friends recently about how society has changed from when each of us were younger. We were all born in different decades and our childhoods were quite different from each other’s, but we all agreed that we are glad we were born and raised then rather than now.
I was born in the mid 80’s, and when I picture my childhood I remember that I spent a lot of it playing outside with my siblings, and the other children that lived in the street. We played simple games that only required our imaginations and everyone looked out for each other. If anyone wanted us they knocked on our front door as back then we didn’t have a mobile phone.
Most of the toys and games that we owned were shared between us siblings, we had one Sega Megadrive, one cassette player, and we each had to take turns using them. We would often play family games together with our parents, such as Monopoly, or Game of Life. We weren’t the richest family, nor the poorest, but we only ever really had something new if it was our birthday or Christmas.
Compared to what life is like for children these days, our upbringing was quite different. Many children now have mobile phones, tablets, and other technical products at such a young age. It is rare that I see children out playing in the street, most are just walking around with earphones in, or their head in their phone. A lot of children have at least one gaming console, usually one of the latest models, and if there is more than one child in the house, sometimes they have one each.
I only had a small family, but we were all very close. I would regularly visit my Grandparents house and enjoy finding out about some of the objects they had on display. They had a lot of things that they had inherited after their parents had passed away, which means they could be classed as family heirlooms. Family Heirlooms are often defined as items or objects that have been passed down through generations. I used to love to hear about the history of an object, where it came from, how long they had had it for, and what it would have been used for. I recently visited the Milton Keynes Museum and some of these items were on display. It was a strange feeling, seeing something from my childhood as a museum piece. It made me feel quite old!
When I visit my Grandparents house today, they still have many of these family heirlooms, albeit some of them are no longer on display. I still love to see them, as they remind me of my childhood and I know that they are special because they have been in the family for a long time. They still have many of their day to day item that they had when I was a child, such as items of crockery. They only tend to replace things when they are worn out or broken, and a lot of what they have was made to last.
I know that when my grandparents pass away, and my mother becomes heir to all their possessions, many of these items, that were passed down from my ancestors, will be kept. I expect that they will be stored somewhere safe as they hold so much sentimental value. My Grandmother still has some of her Mother’s jewellery which will stay in the family too. I have no doubt that one day, these items will eventually be passed onto my Sister and I, and then onto our children, and so on. They will most definitely be classed as a family heirloom then.
When I look around my house, I doubt that any of the new items that I own will be something that will make it into museum, or be deemed valuable enough to pass on to my children. As a society we just don’t seem to be able to keep anything for long enough for it to become special. A great example of this is our mobile phones, I haven’t kept any of my mobile phones for more than two years as they are ‘upgraded’ at the end of each contract. Most other items are no longer built to last a lifetime, and therefore are easily replaced. Many of us don’t wait until something is broken before buying a replacement, we do so, often when we just simply fancy a new one, and because of this nothing ever seems to hold much value.
This has lead me to wonder if objects that could be classed as a ‘family heirloom’ are now a thing of the past. Unless we become heir to something that our older relatives have previously inherited or had for an extended period of time, will we have anything special that we can pass on to our own children and grandchildren? There is a chance that we may have items of high value, such as a painting, sculpture or item of jewellery that we could pass down to our loved ones. But then, we have to ask ourselves, if that does happen, will the children of today’s society recognise it’s value as it is meant, and retain the item to pass further down the bloodline, or would the items be sold on for cash, particularly as they increase in value? I guess only time will tell!
Do you have a family heirloom that you have inherited? Have you considered what you will want to happen to it after you have passed away? Do you own an object of high value or sentimental worth that you would like to pass on to your loved ones? Complete the contact form below to find out more about how you can secure your heirlooms/valuable objects for your future generations.