What to do with family heirlooms?
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  1. #1
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    Default What to do with family heirlooms?

    So I got married last year, and as gifts received a number of items referred to as "family heirlooms" by the givers. I'm going to be honest - I don't want or need any of it. It's lots of silver plate, old glassware (not in especially nice condition), just clutter. Nothing homemade or personalized. None of it belonged to relatives whom I could identify by name. I also have pending heirlooms coming to me from my grandmother (like a set of sterling dinnerware and china) which mean a lot to me and, if I ever find myself needing nice dinnerware, I'll use those.

    I'm inclined to send it all off to Goodwill (I doubt it has any cash value), but am somewhat afraid that I'll offend the people who gave me the items if they ever come calling. I also feel a bit ungrateful. I guess these items mean something to some family members, but I don't feel the need to become their lifelong caretaker for that reason. Ok to let it all go? I can't help thinking that some of this stuff was just junk that family dumped on me! I know, I'm a bad person...

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    Registered User frugalfranny's Avatar
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    Anybody mention WHY it was an heirloom? Like.......where it came from.......or who owned it prior to the person giving it?

    An "heirloom", to my way of thinking, is not just something I pulled out of MY JUNK PILE to give to someone else in the family!!

    If no explanation was given......other than "heirloom" then I say you have the right to do whatever with it.........AT YOUR OWN RISK!

    How often would these people be 'calling' on you?

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    Registered User zakity's Avatar
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    Ask the givers to write down stories associated with the items. That might help you decide what to keep and would be nice to put in a binder for future generations.
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    Registered User Rosebudget1's Avatar
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    Ugh! I hate some of my own family heirlooms never mind every any one else's. I would not keep anything that I don't like.
    If it meant so much to them they would not be giving it away.
    Just my honest opinion.
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    Registered User frugalfranny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rosebudget1 View Post
    If it meant so much to them they would not be giving it away.
    Just my honest opinion.

    Or they would have AT LEAST told you why it was an heirloom!

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    Registered User krbshappy71's Avatar
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    "Love the quilt (dishes, jewelry...whatever) but we're having to downsize a bit, do you want XYZ back?"

    Then pitch. If they want it kept in the family bad enough they will take it back. Didn't sound very personalized to me in the first place but I wasn't there.

    I am the keeper of all heirlooms but once its given to me I only offer it back once before I deem it sacrificial.
    "If you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel, march down there and light it yourself."

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    Thanks for the advice. One item given to me from my aunt belonged to my great aunt - that's the only one I can account for, and this particular great aunt died before I was born. I have a whole pile of stuff from my MIL that has no provenance (other than being from family, but she can't tell me who). One of those items has no identifiable function in general - no one is sure what it's a part of (silver plate cover of some sort). My dad also gave me a ton of stuff, but a lot of it really isn't from a particular relative, just happens to be of the era that they lived through.

    My dad's a certified hoarder, and as a result from growing up with it, I tend to be someone who wants to get rid of stuff constantly (with little regard to its emotional connections). I'm most concerned about his reaction, because he remembers what he gives me and asks about it. Like last Christmas he asked me how a set of mixing bowls he'd given me five years before were doing.

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    Registered User josantoro's Avatar
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    I am having a similar problem but it is MY heirlooms. I have a lot of stuff that belonged to my mom, who died when I was nine. I have no kids (just step-kids) and no nieces/nephews. I am finally psyching myself up to part with some of it (flatware, jewelry, etc.)

    I have to tell myself I will always have the memories of my mother, and someone else can enjoy the objects. I think in the back of my mind i was thinking that if I held on to the plates, silver, etc, there was a chance I could re-live those Sunday dinners with my family.

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    Registered User Contrary Housewife's Avatar
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    I like the idea of offering it back to the family if you have no place to store it. Otherwise, display a few pieces you can live with until the donor dies.

    My MIL was a nice woman but her tastes and mine did not match. DH and got rid of a lot of stuff she had given us when she passed away.
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    Registered User krbshappy71's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by abeautifullife View Post
    My dad's a certified hoarder, and as a result from growing up with it, I tend to be someone who wants to get rid of stuff constantly (with little regard to its emotional connections). I'm most concerned about his reaction, because he remembers what he gives me and asks about it. Like last Christmas he asked me how a set of mixing bowls he'd given me five years before were doing.
    Is there a risk of him coming to the house and looking for the items? If not, if he's just asking about them just say "ya great! love 'em!" and move on. My mom does that to a certain point. If I mention during shopping looking for, say, a table covering she will say "what about that table cloth I gave you 20 years ago don't you still have that?"

    Um. No mom. It disintegrated to threads the following weekend because it was so freakin' old before you gave it to me and I don't mean antique old! Ok so I don't tell her that I just white lie along such as "ya but I wanted something blue or pink instead..." because she isn't going to come to my house and look for the tablecloth. It doesn't hurt her and it doesn't hurt me because I don't mind white lies to spare feelings and I get to live my life junk free, she gets to live hers thinking the stupid tablecloth is safely tucked in a drawer.

    Totally up to you though if you are comfortable doing that.
    "If you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel, march down there and light it yourself."

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    HaHa so sorry but I can relate. MIL bought tons of crap from Franklin Mint and Dh was always coming back w/ something precious she had convinced him was valuable.
    We currently house a set of silverware that came from her third husbands aunt?? A set of gold plated silver coins, and several dolls that she dumped on my DD because her DD lost her dolls in a move years ago.
    We have dumped glass animals,mugs by the cart load,tons of 1/2 done needle work. I had never heard of a hoarder back then.
    When we got our first house she had a few things for us to store (100 boxes!!!!!).
    Select a few things and quietly lose the rest.

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    Registered User peppermint66's Avatar
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    Since the items were gifted to you, they are yours to do with as you will. Perhaps you can take a little time to 'display' the tems in your home, take photos, and then send the items you do not want packing? Then , if Aunt SuzyQ asks you in ten years what you did with the Who-zee-whats-it" she gave you at your wedding, you can pull out the pictures and say "See? We had it out for a while, but I wanted to display this thing a ma jigger over here instead for a while! "

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    Registered User Ramona's Avatar
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    1. You can't identify the givers by name.

    2. They aren't "keepers".

    3. Let them go.

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    Registered User bookwormpeg's Avatar
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    When it comes right down to it, it is all just "stuff." Take pictures of it and then OUT IT GOES!!!
    I just got rid of lots of "stuff." Kids didn't want it so I put it out and it was gone in the morning......only thing kids (2) wants is my coffee table...they are fighting over it, so I am stuck with it. They can fight over it when I am gone...

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    Registered User frugalfranny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frugalwarrior2 View Post
    When we got our first house she had a few things for us to store (100 boxes!!!!!).
    .
    OMG.........fw! This was just toooooo funny. Loved it.

    I am NOT a big lover of "dishes" (other than crystal vases) but with the idea of 'being fair' my mom gave me some of my grandmother's dishes when she died (others went to sister, and gran's DIL)............and what did I get you ask????

    I got the ice cream type dishes that you used to get FREE in Duz soap!!! Probably a collector item now......but they are downstairs in a box........never been unwrapped, except one.

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