Thursday, October 27, 2011

Heirloom Guilt(y)

Heirloom guilt. I'm guilty 100 percent.

Somehow an item passed along carries an emotional weight. The table you spent Christmas dinners around. The painting your grandmother lovingly painted (even though you have eight others.) For those items, I struggle with their future.

I love the term heirloom guilt. It's just so right.

The box of paintings that I've yet to find a home for after five years in this house mocks me every time I enter my son's room. The stupid wooden ducks that do little but collect dust on top of our bookcase stay, year after year, because they're among the few things my husband has from his family. I have no idea from whom it came. But they stay.

Worse yet, I caught myself imparting this on my 3 year old the other day. The well-worn blanket that somehow made the return trip home from Kansas City? It's my husband's 37-year-old cuddle blanket. And it came home. And has joined my son in his bed.

It's easier to cope with items when they have a purpose. Like several of my grandmother's paintings. Or a quilt my husband's grandmother made. Or my grandma's dining room set, destined to pinch tiny figures, which later found a new home at my brother's house after a furniture swap.

For others, I struggle with the clutter they impart and the memories they represent. The box of photos and smaller paintings my grandmother made - which have taunted me to do something with them for five years now - doesn't diminish the love she had for me or the work she created. Quantity of things doesn't replace the quality of love.

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