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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Heirlooms and Other Clutter

There are heirlooms which are cherished because of their history and emotional attachment, and there are heirlooms that are just stuff. In the picture above are three of MANY heirlooms in my house. Most of our heirlooms were given while our parents were cleaning the clutter from their own homes and they entrusted their heirlooms to us with the implied instructions to keep it for the next generation, or as my friend Kim so aptly called it: guilt gifts.

In the picture above is a dental drill used by Hubby's great grandfather who was a dentist. We also have his dental tools, one look at them and modern dentistry doesn't seem so scary. Hubby was fascinated by the drill since he was a little boy and it was promised to him long before we married. Luckily, it first went to an aunt who kept it until she died and then it was passed to him. The aunt kept it hidden away in a bedroom and that would be my preference too, but the Hubster likes to have it in the den so he can demonstrate it when visitors finally get around to asking what it is. Because Hubby loves it, it is a cherished heirloom and I am stuck with it; for better or worse and all that.

Next to it is a table that converts into a chair. Cute, huh? Hubby's grandfather bought it at a farm auction in 1920 and Hubby's mother said it was the table where the Aladdin lamp always sat. At some point Grandpa put it in his cellar but when Hubby and I married, the chair-table was in my in-law's (Deedee and Pawpaw's) cellar. At some point they cleaned it up and put it in their den. But when they moved to their current house about thirteen years ago, they didn't have room for it and handed it down to Hubby, and therefore, me. A while back I told Hubby I didn't really want it in our house and to my amazement, he said he didn't either. He hadn't grown up with it since it was in a cellar most of his life. It is too big to be an end table, too awkward to use as an eating table, and too deep to sit in. I told Deedee we didn't want it so she could ask cousins if they wanted it, but she told us not to bother, just get rid of it.

Deedee had kept the Aladdin lamp, even though it had a big chunk broken out of the glass shade.  Deedee and Pawpaw have decided to move to a retirement village, so a few weeks ago both sons and their dutiful wives (I did go with some reluctance since we were on vacation at the time) went to help divide the "heirlooms". Since Deedee gave us the chair-table, she gave Brother Bear the big farm scale. (Hallelujah!) Then she gave Hubby the option of taking the Aladdin lamp since we had the table for it. Hubby opened the box it was in, looked at it, and started to answer when he broke the globe. Cha-ching! So we took the lamp which now has a broken globe along with the broken shade.

Then, there's the old kitchen clock which is now on the table. It doesn't work, and I don't consider it a true heirloom even though Deedee gave it to Hubby. She had this and another one very much like it on her den wall when I married Hubby, and after both sons were married, she gave each son a clock. The one she gave Brother Bear belonged to her mother and since she wanted to keep everything equal, she bought another one at a garage sale to give Hubby. It hasn't worked since we've had it and I have never found a good place for it.

When Deedee and Pawpaw moved to their current house, they had a garage sale and put a lot of "heirlooms" in it. One thing was a cracked glass jar butter churn. When my mother saw it there, she bought it and saved it for me "because it should stay in the family." Guilt Gift. When she came by while we were all sorting through stuff a few weeks ago, she saw a gift she had given Deedee and Pawpaw for Christmas years ago.  Deedee used to decorate with bears at Christmas and this was a door plaque with with a tole-painted teddy bear sitting in a wreath. Mom saw it sticking out of box in the corner designated for auction items aka the stuff no one wanted. She looked at me and said "Aren't you taking that? Patty painted it you know." The plaque came out of the box. Guilt Gift.

I've heard many times that if you don't use something or love it, it's just clutter. So much of the things I have here falls under that category, whether it was an heirloom, a new gift, or even something I bought for myself. I have finally given myself permission to do something about it so I can start enjoying my own home. Our house is small and we have had more stuff than places to put it since we've lived here, so it's always messy and cluttered. I don't function well in disorder so I am going to get rid of the clutter, starting with the big stuff so it will make an immediate difference. Wish me luck when it comes to the guilt gifts!

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