The suggest flitted across my computer screen: “to preserve family history items and antiques, give them as holiday gifts.”

I’m not certain that is how it works. Just because you put great-grandma’s christening gown in a shadow box and give it to someone as a gift, does not mean that they will automatically cherish it enough to preserve it and keep it to pass on to future generations. Thrift stores, antique malls, flea markets, and the like are full of unwanted gifts. If you’re going to give someone a family history item in hopes that they preserve it, try to see if they have any interest in it first. See if there are ways to cultivate an interest in family history.

I fully understand the frustration felt in trying to ensure that treasured photos and the like are cared for and preserved by future generations. I’m not certain simply wrapping it up as a present and calling it a day is the way to do that.

Make certain the person has an interest first. Discuss the item first. You might also want to determine if someone outside your immediate family has an interest. This is particularly true if the item in question is from an ancestor who has more descendants than just your immediate family.

I gifted myself this frame set of pencils that my great-grandfather had when he sold seed corn.



2 Responses

  1. My mother in law gave me some original photos and documents belonging to her father. My husband was one of six siblings. When a sister asked her mother why she gave me those things her reply was that I was the only one who cared.

  2. I was the only child also of two only children, receiving all my father and mothers carefully cared for antiques and treasures after their passing. I’d been taught to lovingly hold on to all of them too, “for the generations “. Turns out my adult children live in a minimalist world with little or no interest in cleaning and entertaining with sterling silver nor the room to store them. Neither does the general world, post Covid, as auction houses often can’t unload sterling silver or porcelain knick knacks anymore. As I’ve discovered as an adult, what I’d thought as a kid were one offs only belonging to my family, was actually often mass marketed! So they are giveaways now and actually there are those out there who want a small piece. So it’s a positive experience to regift these heirlooms to a new home.

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