The Power of a Family Heirloom
Pause. Take a moment. Close your eyes. Remember. Taste your grandma’s warm, homemade cookies. Remain entranced by grandfather’s hypnotizing stories of the past. Reverence the intricate design of your uncle’s hand-held watch. Laugh at your father’s funny jokes. Smell the scent of your mother’s favorite sweater. Now. Open your eyes. Do you see them in the room with you? Is there anything in your whole house that reminds you of their past legacy or present existence?
What is a Family Heirloom?
This elephant shaped cookie jar was from my great, great, grandma!
Have you ever heard someone make a reference to a special household item in a similar way? If so, you already have an idea as to what a family heirloom is, but let’s dish out a clear meaning once and for all.
Its Detailed Definition
A family heirloom is something of special value that is handed down from one family generation to the next family generation. Traditionally it is passed on physically from older family members to younger family members or on occasion through a will. A family heirloom holds either sentimental, monetary, antique, or cultural value.
You are onto Something Good!
Perhaps mere curiosity or intrigue led you to discover more about family heirlooms. Maybe you are feeling loaded down with too many “family heirlooms” and trying to decipher from all “the paraphernalia”, what is worthy of being considered a keepsake family heirloom. Or, it is possible you are inspired by the way a family heirloom acts as a time portal and desire to create and to protect an heirloom of your own to pass onto your loved ones.
Whatever the case, this blog will equip you in your journey to create and to protect what is special and important to you that can be enjoyed and remembered for generations to come.
Ideas for How to Create or Start a Family Heirloom
Do not Stress!
Creating a family heirloom is not meant to be a complicated or stressful process, although it is a thoughtful process. In fact, it is a doorway to creative fun and special reminiscing that will draw you (and your family) closer to your ancestors and to a deeper understanding and appreciation for each other. Relax, enjoy, and have fun!
The Secret Ingredient
The creation of a family heirloom is not a black and white process. The creation of a family heirloom is like the individual artwork of thousands of artists. Each piece is unique to its painter. Great news! Family heirlooms are not limited to or created by simply purchasing an expensive item at the store and slapping the name ‘heirloom’ on it. The creation of a family heirloom may involve costly or valuable items, but the main ingredient to your heirloom’s creation should be sentimental value.
- Is there meaning beyond just the price tag?
- Does this special “something” share a story of a life event or experience?
- Does it connect you to a special or influential person?
- Does it preserve your culture or family tradition?
- Would it be something your descendants would cherish, respect, and retain for generations?
- Does it connect you to your past by preserving nostalgia, flavors, or moments?
Let’s Do This
Equipped with the main ingredient in hand, check out these 5 great ways of creating a family heirloom.
1. “Passing the Torch”
You can easily create a family heirloom through an item that represents “passing on the torch” of a family tradition. Whether it is a responsibility, job, or a new stage in life, you can commemorate these special moments with a watch, ring, jacket, antique car, vintage chest, cedar hope chest, or motto. Do not worry if you do not already have an item from one of your grandparents to pass on. You can start by thoughtfully purchasing or passing on one of your own current belongings.
2. Build Your Own Family Heirlooms
If you are crafty or a craftsman, you have your foot in the door for creating a special family heirloom with your own hands. That is just super cool! You have the opportunity to create anything out of wood, canvas, pottery, or clay. A handcrafted toy for your son or grandson, or a hand-painted piece of intricate pottery for your daughter or granddaughter or vice versa, makes a fantastic gift. It is literally built with love, and one that is worth cherishing. Even if you are the farthest from crafty, you can reach out to someone who is and partner with them for the design of your handcrafted heirloom.
3. Design a Thoughtful Heirloom Book
Creating a family heirloom through preserving family photos is an excellent and precious way to cherish your roots, but also to share them with your children and great-grandchildren. One of the best and most captivating ways to create a family heirloom photo book is by designing the pages with thought, stories, memories, and of course pictures. An heirloom photo book of your grandparents, parents, or current life story, is one that can capture the interest, respect, and high regard of your descendants for generations.
There is in every human countenance either a history or a prophecy.Samuel Taylor Coleridge, English Poet and Critic
4. Capture a Family Heirloom Through A Still-Life Photo
Professional Photographer, Shana Novak, creator of The Heirloomist Photography, delights in taking special items and creating a magnificent photograph begging people’s intrigue and speaking volumes of the story behind it. Check out Shana Novak’s work and be inspired to create a portrait of a special family heirloom. Also, for all photographers, may Shana’s passion for preserving special moments, inspire your own creative passion for capturing your family’s special items in a similar and unique way.
Whether it’s a special pair of jeans that saved your father’s life from a fire or a Happy Meal box that your grandfather used to propose to your grandma, a picture of those items would beg explanation. Do you have a special item in your home that holds incredible sedimental value due to the experience, and fascinating story surrounding it? Consider making that special item a family heirloom by getting a professional picture of that item(s) to put in full display in an honored space in your home.
A Picture Says a Thousand Words
5. Pass on a “One of a Kind” Family Recipe
Food? If you just did a double take…you are not alone… Food, a family heirloom?
Absolutely! In fact, food is a daily experience. We constantly think about food. We connect experiences, people, and moments in time, with food. Our food tells a story of our heritage, our culture, our family kitchens, and most importantly, our mothers, grandmas, and great grandmas.
Do you have a favorite cultural or traditional meal you savor, create, or miss? If so, Family Heirloom Alert! Don’t stop eating it and most importantly, learn to create it! Some of those recipes are a work of art, with a splash of spice here and a dump of lentils there. Maybe you feel like you could never “re-create it”. Don’t give up. Do everything in your power to replicate the dish even if it now has your own personal flavor mixed in, that is all part of the beauty!
Wrapping Up Your Family Heirlooms
In conclusion, these five ways of creating a family heirloom offer you the portal into your family’s past, present, and future. Remember, you are the Protector, the Hero, and Guardian of your family’s history. Enjoy it, savor it, and recollect it!
What Makes a Quality Family Heirloom?
Choose Quality Over Quantity
This is a super important question! The simple answer… choose Quality over
But for practical answers, rely on these 3 simple tips.
- 1. Future Need – Can your descendants use it? Will it inspire a positive action, such as a desire to display, to safely protect and to cherish, or physically use?
- 2. Value –Is it rich? …in quality and sentimental value? If it is merely monetary value, chances are it will be eventually sold by your descendants.
- 3. Tells a Story – Does it share of an experience that is special, a person who is precious, or a time period that changed the course of your own or family’s history or future?
Dig a Little Deeper
Why Are Family Heirlooms Important?
Importance in a Nutshell
Your very own family heirlooms are important because they represent a doorway into your past, present, and future. They signify the most meaningful aspects of life, such as accomplishment, victory, happiness, overcoming adversity, heritage, honor, humor, and last but most important, love. Your family heirlooms are memoirs of your family and special memories, which are priceless.
Different Ideas for Family Heirlooms
Throughout this blog we have mentioned different items that you can consider for a family heirloom. Now let us gather the full list of ideas for possible family heirlooms and elaborate on the very last one.
Of course, you are still the artist painting a unique and special family picture, these items are meant to merely inspire you along the way.
- Gold Jewelry
- Specially crafted furniture
- Family Recipes
- Photo Books
- A family Bible
- Dog tags
- Medals or trophies
- Still Life Photos
- Wedding Clothes
Cedar Chests or Hope Chests
We are highlighting the cedar hope chests because it is a multi-purposed family heirloom. Cedar chests are the poster child for creating a high-quality and long-lasting family heirloom. In fact, these beautifully crafted wooden boxes have a long history of lasting for generations and a long standing tradition of being an established family heirloom. A cedar chest itself is a beautiful masterpiece, but it also functions as a time-tested way to effectively protect your family heirlooms, such as photos, Bibles, medals…and pretty much all the above list. Plus, a cedar chest provides you with a focused amount of space to cradle your family heirlooms.
By creating or starting a family heirloom you are choosing to be the Heroic Protector of your family’s history. Go for it, have fun, enjoy, and relish all the special memories and moments along the way!