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...