Displaying Family Heirlooms | Days of Chalk and Chocolate

Displaying Family Heirlooms

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The best way to start this post about displaying family heirlooms is with a story. Ok, a story and a picture maybe. Maybe a picture of a family heirloom first.

Now the story. My parents were visiting us from North Carolina. We were sitting around in the living room and my father was very quiet (not like him). I see him looking around the room eyeing every last detail. He then says "You know, Jen. I really like the way you decorated this room. It is very comfortable. I like it so much." To which I replied, "Well you should. You owned everything in this room at some point."  We laughed. Ha Ha!  Jen is a mooch!  She took the bookcase, the side table, the buffet, the salad bowl, etc. She'll take the sandwich out of your hand if you aren't careful! Ok, that's not true unless it's bologna and American on squishy white bread with Fritos. 

But there was some truth to our exchange.  My living room was familiar and comforting to him because it had touches of him, my mom, my grandparents, his friends, you name it, everywhere. I find it comforting too.  Oh sure, I sometimes wish I could be let loose in Ethan Allen and chuck all my stuff for new. But then I probably wouldn't do it if I truly had the chance. Each table, trinket, bookcase tells a little story. It's my story and my parents, and my grandparents'. It shows everyone who enters my house a little about what was important to me growing up.  These belongings are more than stuff to us because they are parts of our story too.

So that picture up there...what is it?  An antique grommet maker. My father was an attorney before retiring and he used that antique grommet maker to secure probably every will he ever wrote. My father's job was a huge part of our lives. My mom was his secretary for years and so our second home was "the office." My father worked very hard to go to law school, entering the Air Force first so he could pay for it and trying to prove all the guys back home who said he wouldn't do it that he could and would. And that grommet maker tells that story. It sits on his barrister bookcase which I love. But that grommet maker makes me feel closer to my parents and my childhood than the big grand piece on which it rests.

I display that grommet maker, Jim's grandmother's crystal bowl, my grandmother's rolling pin, my mom's measuring spoons, and other heirlooms to give visitors a glimpse into the story of our family. And someday, I hope Molly and Ellie display some of these items, with a few of mine and Jim's thrown in, to continue their stories.

I'd love to see some of your heirlooms. What do you like to keep out to tell your story?



  1. I'd love to see more pictures. Trying to find the best ways to show off some of my stuff... roller skates, mule harness, tap shoes.

  2. I'd love to see more pictures. Trying to find the best ways to show off some of my stuff... roller skates, mule harness, tap shoes.


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