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Stuff expands to fit the available space

It’s a good thing that stuff has been leaving the house, because there’s a new batch of stuff that’s going to arrive. It’s cool stuff though.

It sounds like my Aunt Linda is going through a similar de-cluttering, and is getting rid of things of my grandmother’s. Luckily, instead of having a yard sale or taking it all to Good Will or a consignment shop, she checked with the family first. Since my cousins weren’t interested she is shipping my Grandma’s china, her silver, and some quilt tops that my Great-Grandma Huber made. As I remember, Grandma’s china is lovely and to my taste. Mind you, I haven’t laid eyes on it since the mid ‘80s and I don’t remember her silver at all. But I’m pleased to be getting my hands on it.

The irony of this is that I now have my mother’s old "good" dishes, my Christmas dishes, my Grandma Benysek’s china, and will eventually have my Grandma Longton’s china. But we don’t have a full set of everyday dishes that we like – we’re still using an old set that I scammed out of my mother’s attic. Because we can’t agree on what to get. It’s my own fault. He would have let me have whatever I wanted, but I insisted that he should have equal say in the matter. So for the moment we’re using dishes that were a promotion at Pathmark. Remember? This week they have the dinner plates; next week they’ll have the soup bowls, etc.

I’ll also end up with two sets of silver, but there’s no irony there, because we do have very nice everyday flatware that we picked out and agreed on. I’ve kind of got my fingers crossed that she had the same silver as my mother. That way I’d have one enormous set of silver, instead of two medium sets.

I’m very excited about the quilt tops, and hopefully they’re in good shape. I grew up with one of her quilts – it’s a crazy quilt made out of my great-grandpa’s silk ties. Grandma put a batting and a back on it, and it was on my bed all the years of my childhood. Unfortunately, I wasn’t very good to it, and a number of the ties have shredded over the years of use and washing. My solution to that is that I have a bag full of my dad’s old, worn out silk ties, and I’ll use them to patch it. Probably ruining the "vintage" value of it, but adding two more generations of family history to it (which is better, in my mind.) Mind you – I have no idea what I’ll do with it when it’s mended, but I’ll think of something. First things first.

It’s sad how little I know of my great-grandmother. I know her name, and I know that she raised more than ten children on a farm in Wisconsin. There is a photo or two, and a silhouette that was cut when she was already an old lady. The things that I have of hers are all things that she made, or her tools. Some quilt tops, one in need of repair. A wool rag rug, also in desperate need of cleaning and repair. (I’m reading up on how to handle that before I tackle it. You’ve got to be impressed by any rug that has survived probably close to a hundred years of use, and is only now really beginning to have issues. I was very indignant when mom suggested throwing it out.) A pair of doilies. Her darning egg. Her tatting shuttle. I would hope that it would please her that her great-granddaughter is still using her tools and thinking of her, even though we never met. Either that or she’d be appalled that after all these years we hadn’t moved on to something better! My understanding is that she was a very practical woman. How else, being a farm wife? I imagine she would approve.

I like family things. I think that you can get bogged down in them if you’re not careful, but I like that sense of family history. There is a sense of connection to the people in your past, even if all you know about them is that they made the rug you’re walking on. I don’t want so much family stuff that there is no room for things of my own that are about me, but a rug, a few quilts, the silver, a plant stand... These are manageable items, and it’s important to me. It’s why I’m pleased to be able to store a friend’s grandmother’s dining room furniture (hi!). It isn’t just furniture, it’s a little connection that can’t be replaced once it’s gone. Besides, when she picks it up I’m going to have to figure out what to do for extra dining room chairs...


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 5th, 2009 05:28 pm (UTC)
I know nothing about my great-grandparents, either. I did meet my Granny Ruby, who I remember always had tums, wore ugly loafers, and seemed tiny to me even though she died by the time I was four. And my grandfather on my mom's side...he was born and raised in Wales so I know NOTHING about his side of the family whatsoever.

It's too bad things get forgotten. THere is no tradition in my family, no precious old possessions...I remember a few things from childhood but I've mostly forgotten what they were by now.
May. 5th, 2009 05:47 pm (UTC)
I didn't know any of my grandparents well. Geography dictated that - they were in Minnesota and we were in upstate New York and then Connecticut. Summer vacation as a small child, the occasional Christmas visit. I barely knew my mother's parents - for some reason Grandma terrified me. I adored Grandpa, though. He was French-Canadian, and indulgent. I still smile when I think of him. Grandma was Polish, and I remember her as very strict although I don't know if that was really so or not. Now, as an adult, I wish I had known her. We always stayed with my father's parents because they had room, so I knew them better. I regret not knowing more about them as people, but it is what it is.

It occurs to me that I should probably write down the things that I do know. So that someday Charlotte won't be saying the same sorts of things. Now THAT might be something worth posting...
May. 5th, 2009 06:02 pm (UTC)
Granny Ruby was my great-grandmother but she was the only one alive by the time I was born. My grandfather from Wales died five years before I was born and his wife (my Gramma Wendy) died when I was 11. I see my paternal grandparents all the time but they still remain strangers.

Posting about ancestors is actually one of the options on my list...I've got it to 35 ideas, now, so I may leave it at that.
May. 6th, 2009 07:40 pm (UTC)
>and some quilt tops

oh how wonderful for you!!

i know how excited i was when my mother found where she'd lost one of her mother's crocheted blankets. (at the church...not sure how it got there, something about me as a child and my father getting so sick.) anyway, it's in my bedroom at her house now, waiting for me to get there and bring it back. It's not a style i'd buy new -- you know those big crocheted roses? they're all OVER the thing. But nana made it. And my only memories of her are as a tiny little old lady whose mind was starting to drift...things like this are a wonderful reminder that there were many verses to her epic before i arrived on the scene.
May. 6th, 2009 08:14 pm (UTC)
I'm trying not to get too excited - who knows what shape things are in after all these years of being stored. But I'm hopeful. And worst case scenario, it's gotten me interested in mending the one I have already.
May. 10th, 2009 06:20 pm (UTC)
I am so there with you on this. I love having my grandmother's sewing machine, my mother's china, and I will be inheriting my grandmother's silver as well. Cooking from gram's recipes, especially those in the handwriting that looks so beautiful from a distance, but you get close to and realize how hard it is to read.

I love hand kneading the babka every Christmas and Easter. There is a wonderful sense of continuity that it brings. My greatest sadness is that I have no daughter to pass these things too. Of course, I'm sitting here typing this on Mother's Day, which is pretty much the suckiest day of the year for me. Sigh.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )