Sunday, May 17, 2020

Heirlooms From My Mother

Heirloom:  A valuable object that has belonged to a family for several generations.

I recently read an article on heirlooms about what this generation of grandchildren will do with what we, the boomers, view as treasures, many of which were passed down to us.

The consignment and resale stores are full of items we grew up with and thought would continue to be passed on down to future offspring.  No, they won't likely want them either.

Our grown children have their own tastes and finer things in their homes than we do.  And let's be honest, when we are ready to downsize for the nursing home, our kids will also be in a downsizing time of their lives.  So, if we’re thinking our grown children will gladly accept our things much less our parents’ items, if only for sentimental reasons, we’re likely in for a great disappointment.

As for our grandchildren, this is an Ikea, Target and World Market generation. They live minimally, much more so than we and our children did. They don’t have the emotional connection to things that earlier generations did. And they’re more mobile. So they don’t want a lot of heavy stuff to have to move across country or store if they decide to move abroad for a new opportunity.

Young people just don’t want the same things people used to have.  And I can appreciate that.  My mother-in-law once asked Dick if he wanted anything she had, to which he replied, "Mom, I have enough junk of my own."  That didn't go over too well.

All this thought on heirlooms gave me cause to think about some of the things I have that belonged to my mother and grandmother that I treasure.  I also wonder would any of my children and granddaughters ever see them as treasures and desire to keep them.

One thing I am going to do in order to give some meaning and significance of the "heirlooms" is to compile a binder that includes pictures and information about each one.  Who it belonged to and how it was used and why it is important to me, might also give an item reason to be kept.  Or at least a story for the estate sale.

For instance, 

This quilt top was made by my maternal grandmother who gave birth to ten children and lost her husband when the youngest, my mother was only seven.

It was never finished and I often wonder why.  I love the idea that it contains fabric that belonged to her and possibly my own mother and aunts.  I marvel at the fine hand stitching and how well it is still preserved.

This Double Ring quilt was also my grandmother's and one of our favorites as children.

I inherited beautifully embroidered table runners and scarves.

I can remember my mother using these pieces that were done by her mother and grandmother and some that she herself also did.

I embroidered these pillow cases and were the first items to go into my "Hope Chest" as a young girl.  I was so proud to be carrying on a long tradition of doing what young girls had done for generations.  Dick and I used them for several years.  Will they mean anything to anyone else?

I have a large storage bag of some of the most delicate and intricate pieces of crochet done by my great grandmother and grandmother.

My mother used many of them on table tops, chair arms, on dressers and to decorate a shelf or two.  I have pictures of some of them pinned to the arms of my grandmother's favorite chair.

Though precious indeed, I don't even use them and acknowledge that it is a passing skill as well as purpose.

The one thing I asked for was my grandmother's crocheted bedspread.

To me it is the most beautiful thing and I truly treasure it and the effort that went into making something so delicate and lovely.

My mother must have had a amazing bridal shower.  But, that was probably the thing ladies did back in the '40's especially in the south.

This punch bowl, cups and trays are a very heavy crystal and the same pattern of a set of salad bowls and plates that I have already given my daughter.  She has also laid claim to these pieces of well.  Thank you Christy.

These gorgeous delicate stemware pieces are all that's left, or could be all that she was given.  I don't ever recall using them, but we did love to look at them as children.

I do not know the pattern, but think it is beautiful.

This crystal bowl is one of my favorites,

as is this pretty little bowl that I use a lot.

Wedding gifts always included tons of relish dishes, and deviled egg plates of which I have three.  No Southern Baptist lady ever went to a dinner-on-the-grounds or a wake without a dish of deviled eggs.

This belonged to my grandmother and was a glass ice bucket, but my mother said it was mostly used to hold eating utensils on the table.

This little dish was also my grandmother's and now holds my childhood pins and my first rhinestone necklace.  I love it.

All of these things are treasured heirlooms to me.  And there are others as well, such as mother and daddy's love letters.  But, what means the most to me?

I find the most precious "heirloom" to be my mother's writings.  She was a devoted, Godly woman and teacher.  When she found something that spoke to her, she wrote it down.  She often wrote out her prayers.

In 1976, she wanted to give me and my sisters something really special for Christmas.  She lovingly hand wrote three books containing devotional thoughts and personal experiences for each day of the year, and named it "Reflections."

Sometimes the most precious things to us are those that no one else will find of value.  I never expect my mother's notebooks and letters to be sold in an estate sale, but I would hope that perhaps one grandchild will want to keep this part of her past very close.

In the end it is only things, but what God has put in our hearts is what will remain and be of eternal value.

Elizabeth "Libby" Day
Elizabeth "Libby" Day

Hello, My name is Libby. I enjoy reading good books, painting, blogging, spending time with friends and whatever my "Heart" leads me to do. Welcome to Beauty Without Within.


  1. Oh, my goodness! I have so many crocheted dollies, several quilts and other items from my Paternal Grandmother. I labeled everything when I was going through preparing for our move to this house. And, as you said, I most probably was labeling for whoever has our estate sale. :o)) I have a candy dish that my Mom kept hard candy in for most of my life and it is over 100 years old and not one chip. My brothers and I got candy out of it all the time and I don't know how we didn't chip it. I do think that one of my Granddaughters will want the walnut bedroom suite that my Dad made. I sure hope so. Lovely post!

  2. What beautiful heirlooms! I have some that were my grandmother's like candy dishes, relish trays, trinket dishes, embroidered runners and tea bag holders (I remember my Grandma putting those out when she served tea). For my bridal shower my mother-in-law crocheted me a tablecloth (similar to the pineapple pattern you have), doilies, runners and Christmas ornaments. I keep some of those things in my china cabinet and some I keep out and use. I have a small crystal tray that I use to hold the remote controls. Not what it was intended for but I figured it is a way to display and use it :) What a treasure that devotional book is. I would make copies and give it to your daughter and granddaughters. I enjoyed your post today.

  3. I love seeing your heirlooms. The quilts are treasures, indeed. I cannot look at a hand stitched quilt any longer and just see the pattern. I almost "feel" the hours of work and care that went into each one. Priceless! Your grandmother's crocheted bedspread is a masterpiece. I can only imagine how much you cherish your mother's writings. I have a few recipes written in my mother's hand that I will always keep.

  4. I have some of these same kinds of items. Your doily stash looks just like mine. I never learned to crochet, but my mother and my grandmother left me quite a pile, many of which I use and enjoy in my home. I've been thinking of doing the same thing you are, writing up a little about each item. Like you said, I also get the feeling my children have no interest in any of my treasures but I guess they should at least know a little about what they're tossing out. I've missed your blogs, took me a long time to find you again!

  5. Your post touched my heart today. Such a gorgeous quilt and embroidered and croqueted heirlooms! The handwritten notebooks are priceless. Print out this post and save it with your mother's notebooks. It will be a good reference.

  6. Your items are so beautiful. That glass wear is so pretty. This post is wonderful and I can relate to your words. My daughter is a bit of a collector but wouldn't have any place in her home for the family items I would like to pass down. I want someone to take the Singer sewing machine, the gorgeous dining room set and a hutch that we have. My son and daughter in law like nice things but are definitely minimalists. With my sister cleaning out my dad's house I pretty much said the same thing Dick said. I have so much to get rid of and they are all things I love but downsizing is a must. All of that delicate crochet items are amazing. They should be treasured. I remember cleaning out my aunt and uncles house here in CA. It was a shame the things we just tossed into the dumpster.


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