Resolved?

noritake carolyn

The year after I graduated from college, I was helping a family unpack from a move.  For weeks, I helped by unpacking a couple of boxes at a time.  Yes – I said “weeks”.  Even after they moved in all their stuff, unpacked the necessities and managed to live comfortably with only those things, they still had stacks and stacks and stacks of boxes to unpack.  Stuff they probably hadn’t seen in years, and had certainly never missed.  As I performed this mindless work, I made my first (and only, so far) Jonathan Edwards-style resolution: “Resolved, to guard against the accumulation of much stuff.”  Ok, so it’s not very deep… maybe they’ll get more spiritual as I go along.

Until fairly recently, keeping this resolution was effortless.  After college I was either overseas, unemployed, poor, living with my parents or some combination thereof.  Then I got married and lived in a small apartment, so that wasn’t too hard, either.  Plus, my very disposition has seemed to aid me.  When I walk into a house where there is a bunch of “stuff” (usually knick-knacks and the like), the first thing I think is: “Who’s going to have to sell all this crap when ______ dies?”

I am willing to admit that this may not be the healthiest thought to have running through my mind, but I think there is an element of wisdom in it.  “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”  At any rate, certain things have never appealed to me.  Especially things that aren’t particularly useful – souvenirs, most Christmas decorations, or china.

Very recently, though, I started to regret not registering for china when J and I got married.  When I see china that women have received from their mothers and think about hopefully having a family one day, the thought of passing down something like that actually appeals to me.  Even the silver rimming and frilly patterns, which used to make me gag a little, evoke “oohs” and “ahhs” from me now.

Fortunately, I have a generous father-in-law with an eye for bargains.  As we were estate sale-ing today (yep, it’s totally a verb), we found a beautiful, surprisingly complete set of china for a shockingly low price.  He was kind enough to buy it for me and I now own my very first heirloom item.  Sure, it was in a different family 24hrs ago, but I am hoping to give it a new home and, eventually, pass it along to someone else.

In trying to reconcile this new, somewhat-sentimental me with my former resolution, I decided one china set was ok.  While many people feel like nice stuff is just to have and store safely, I think nice stuff is to use and enjoy.  So come over, and maybe I’ll serve you tea and crumpets in my dainty little cups and plates.

Just DON’T drop it…

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10 responses to “Resolved?

  • Mike Smiley

    Hey Teej,
    I can relate. My parents and I had to help my dad’s folks move out of the house they were in for 20 years and pretty much get rid of everything so they could hop between the siblings houses. I have never seen so much pointless junk, and it led me to make a similar resolution. The way I look at it, heirlooms are good and the sentimental can be a blessing to posterity; but the problem lies when _everything_ becomes an heirloom. I don’t think sentiment alone makes an heirloom, there has to be some utility and value to back it. Recently Adrienne and I have started investing in All-Clad cookware. It’s more expensive, but that stuff should outlast us and will still look current 50 years from now. It will be Addison’s someday, and it’s something she can use everyday and think of her parents.
    But in the end an heirloom is only an heirloom if the children consider it so…to them it may only be junk, and all efforts at keeping the china from breaking were for nought.

    mike

    • TJ Poon

      I so agree with you, Mike! I intentionally left out “children” since I don’t know if I’ll be blessed with any, and I have no idea if they will want it!! Maybe it will end up in another estate sale one day… who knows? I know my mom has some Christmas ornaments that bring her great joy, but are much less interesting to me. I tease her that, were she to give them to me, I’d just sell them. She’s going to give them to my sister… just to be safe 😉

      And, everyone, please know that the last line is completely tongue-in-cheek. I put it there to be funny, since I’d just said that I believe things should be used, not just stored. If you break the china, I’ll be fine. Really 🙂

  • Natasha

    Awww, I love it! Don’t forget – we also have that necklace from Ma-Ma! 😉

  • Carita

    Can’t wait to try out the lovely china set with you!

  • Candice Hiltpold

    A light-hearted post, but very enLIGHTening! Hehe! See, you’re not ALWAYS serious. 😉

  • John Vrana

    Though it isn’t exactly the same, I think this is related: After Miller was born, my Mom decided it was time to give me my baby box. This box consisted of momentos mom had kept from when I was a little kid. Some of the early writings and school assignments were interesting to look through, but she also had some weird stuff in there too. Do you remember during Valentine’s Day in elementary how you gave a valentine to every person in your class? My mom kept all my valentines….some still had old suckers and candy in them. There were also old flower petals (mostly crushed to bits) and stems, and stuff I had no idea what it even was. I’m sure my mom had great memories of these things, but to me most was just junk.

    • TJ Poon

      John, that’s hilarious! I can’t believe there was still candy in some of them. Yuck! And… she was totally holding out on you! 😉
      Yes, my mom still has many of my kindergarten papers, and I think she just recently reduced her stash of my old school papers – she had kept almost all of them!

      It’s a good reminder that, like beauty, value is in the eye of the beholder. Eesh, I hope I haven’t opened a ginormous pandora’s box with this one set of china. Somebody stop me if I start saving Valentine’s candy!!!

  • Ambreen

    ooo…i want to come over for tea on your frilly, dainty new china set…

  • Cassi Robinson

    I love you Teej…

    Let us consider the definition of an heirloom. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language by Houghton Mifflin Company states that an heirloom is a valued possession passed down in a family through succeeding generations or an article of personal property included in an inherited estate.

    I believe that the china you acquired at the estate sale is something that could be an heirloom, especially if you intend to pass it down. However, I also believe a box of papers could be an heirloom if the person owning it considered it to be a “valued possession”.

    I know your Mom and I am a mom. My children are not grown and married but small and just learning. As they are growing I am discovering what it is to be a parent. Oh how I wish I could stop time. I would love to be able to relive every moment of their lives so far. I have already started keeping school papers and valentines. I am unable at this point to make myself let go of any of their baby clothes or toys. I am not certain that any of it will become an “heirloom”, but the possibility is there. Until I do decide, all of it is just “stuff”, “things”, “clutter” or “crap” that I will need to and will DESIRE to remove from my life someday. However, now when I look at them each piece brings a smile to my face and a tear to my eye. They trigger every memory of every moment I have had with my children. Somehow my just having these “things” and looking at them I am able to “stop time”. Sometimes “things” are memories, not kept to be passed down but simply to “stop time”. Perhaps that was your Mother’s attempt, I know it is mine.

    I guess for my part I am kind of sticking up for your Mom. Please be considerate of your Mother’s feelings (I know you will) regarding the papers. After all, I am sure they are a “valued possession” even though she may not have considered them heirlooms to be passed down, but more as a way to keep you and her memory of you alive in her mind.

    I love you honey, just tryin’ to make you think…

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