Lovingly Made by Hand

A friend of my daughter’s posted on Facebook that her parents are moving from the house where she grew up and she now has to decide whether to keep her Barbies and My Little Ponies.

In a time when so many of the objects in our lives are manufactured by machine, I would like her to think also about items from her past that were made by hand.

Perhaps she’s fortunate to have a wooden baby cradle, a sweater knit especially for her, or a quilt made from scraps of fabric. Our ancestors (and, for some of us, even our parents) made many of the things they needed. Objects made by hand are revered by those of us who love them because they turn the functional into beautiful and the ordinary into charming.

What items made by the hands of our relatives do we want to keep?

How do we best remember our family?

With words. Some families have a member who kept a diary or wrote letters. What a treasure to have these pieces of one’s past. We should make sure to preserve these so others can read them.

With images. Most of us have photographs of our parents and grandparents – some of us even have photos of the greats and great-greats – and we treasure these. As we take new photos and even post them to share with others, we should make sure to preserve both old and new ones for future generations.

With objects. The items in our lives that are handcrafted are embedded with the personality of the person who made them. These objects are something tangible that we can actually hold in our hands and they tell a story about the person who made them. Someone has called a quilt a pre-literate diary. What a wonderful way to look at it.

So let’s place all family items – written, photographed, and hand crafted – in the “thinking about it” pile before deciding what to donate and what to give away.

The responses on Facebook said overwhelmingly to keep the Barbies and My Little Ponies. Oh, the nostalgia for the 1980s and ‘90s! Let’s hope there is nostalgia, too, for earlier decades and for objects that were lovingly made by hand.

What item from your family do you treasure the most? Who made it and what does it tell you about that person? Tell us about your special item in a comment to this post and we’ll choose one lucky winner to receive a free copy of our book Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home.

LH

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