Heirlooms, what are they?
Has the definition been changed by the younger generations?
What happens to those things that are no longer considered heirlooms?
In this article, I will try to help you understand these questions.
A Definition Of Heirlooms, Old And New
How old must something be to be considered an heirloom? That depends upon the person doing the defining. But I believe an item can start becoming an heirloom as soon as a person wants to save it for the generations to come.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary there are three meanings, but the third pertains to seeds and plants.
a piece of property that descends to the heir as an inseparable part of an inheritance of real property
something of special value handed on from one generation to another
Can a new item be classified as an heirloom? If it is left to a person in a will, it meets the first definition. Also, if the item is put into storage and not used or used very infrequently, I would consider that to be an heirloom.
We have heirlooms from our grandparents and parents that we have already passed down to the kids. But there are still more here.
Hopefully some of the things that we are making now will mean something to our kids and grandkids.
Are Heirlooms Important To The Newer Generations?
It seems that after the ‘Baby Boomers’ generation there is not as much emphasis placed on items from our heritage aren’t as important.
And most of the ‘Generation X’ people are more into the latest and greatest, not old junk. They don’t mind going to a museum to look at it, but they don’t want it cluttering up their personal space.
That is not to say that nobody wants heirlooms around their home. But those that want heirlooms are in the minority.
I wish I could say that I see a major change in attitudes occurring, but right now I don’t Along with heirlooms goes genealogy. And most people who I see doing genealogy are in their 60’s or older.
Somehow the younger generations have lost interest in anything that isn’t the latest and greatest. Part of the problem is the fact that we as the older generation have tried to give them the best. So they have learned to expect it.
Look at the speed that technology is advancing. Even our cellphones and computers are outdated within one year or less. And now the cars can almost drive themselves, or at least avoid most accidents.
Almost all of us are looking towards the future and not looking back to see what there is about the past that is great.
What Happens To Articles Not Considered Heirlooms?
Most articles that are not considered heirlooms by the possessor are either sold in yard sales, given to someone else or thrown in the trash. And unfortunately many things that the older generation would save is discarded.
Sometimes items are donated to museums for local displays of the ‘Olden Times’. Schools will sometimes take field trips to museums. But I think the emphasis is placed more on ‘See how far we have come’ instead of instilling a love for the old ways.
And I personally think that this has led to many older ways of manufacturing by hand to disappear. One example I can think of is ‘tatting’. Carl knows how to tat and even is willing to teach it. But like most handcrafts, it is time-consuming and there are machines that make edgings that look almost the same.
So most people opt for the less time-consuming way of doing things. We are all in too much of a hurry, trying to do too much in the short time that we have.
Many good examples of handmade articles or exquisite workmanship have lost the appeal that they used to have. Antique furnishings and other memorabilia don’t have the value they used to have. And if they still have value, we are all too glad to part with them for the money.
It seems we have become too focused on the quick buck and forget that someone took the time to make the item by hand with loving care to be handed down from generation to generation.
Is There Any Way To Change Current Opinions?
I really don’t know if we can change the younger generation’s opinion about the past. and heirlooms. But I do know that without trying, there is very little hope.
(Start of Soapbox Mode)
With the current views of family and the older generations, I must admit that it looks to be very difficult. But with a concentrated effort, I think it can be done.
Normally I don’t quote scripture in these articles, but I think it is appropriate here. In Malachi 4:6 it says:
“And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
So we are told to try to turn the hearts of the children back towards their fathers. This can also mean all of their progenitors.
If we do this, then the value of family and of heirlooms will start to increase again. I truly hope that we can do it.
(End of Soapbox Mode)
Sorry for getting on my soapbox, I feel that it is important for the younger generations to understand where they came from and part of that is through heirlooms. And stronger families are what we need in these troubled times.
There will be another article next Friday. So please come at check it out. I will try to stay off of soapbox mode.
Please leave a comment below to let me know if this article was helpful. And let me know if there is any subject you would like to write about.