Hands-on Heirlooms

5 05 2013

IMG_4174What vintage items do you possess but keep in storage for use only on special occasions? For how many of those special occasions are your heirlooms forgotten or decided against?

Many years ago, I worked with a woman who was 50-plus years my senior. Each day at the office, IMG_4942she drank her hot beverages from an ornate China teacup. I always will remember her advice, “Don’t wait for a special occasion to use your special things. Every day is a special occasion, so enjoy what you have while you can.” Although I sometimes hesitate to pull out white table linens for fear of staining them or Depression Glass dishes for fear of chipping them, I try to keep meaningful items at-hand. You know what? I find that using them on a common day satisfies me more than waiting for a particular celebration.

IMG_4184I live surrounded by heirloom furniture, décor and kitchen essentials. They’re not grand, but I wouldn’t swap them for the finest alternatives. I prepare meals while covered with my grandmother’s apron, like a hug from someone I so deeply connected with while she was here. My daughter, who is quite the egg salad maker, slices the eggs weekly with her other great-grandmother’s gadget. The two never met, but a bit of connection is there—in the kitchen. My boys devour hot cocoa in Milk Glass mugs, their little hands gripping the same handles that their great-grandfather’s large, strong hands held. I recently pulled down a Pyrex bowl set on display above my cabinets and found a perfect spot on my kitchen counter for quick access. It belonged to my husband’s “adopted” grandmother. Along with significance came practicality. These bowls keep food from splattering out better than my modern set does.

Many of us have ordinary keepsakes once used by extraordinary people in our lives. With Mother’s Day upon us, it’s the perfect time to honor the special ladies in our lives—past and present—by shaking off our hesitancies, dusting off those reserved pieces, and putting them to use permanently.

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