UPDATE: Mystery solved! (scroll down)
What do you think happened when I offered my mom’s good silverware to my niece, Vinca, as a wedding present?
One never knows what will happen when you pass a family keepsake on to the next generation. Will they love it? Or, not so much? There’s only one way to find out….if your kids are adults now, ask them!
So, you’re getting married. Congratulations! I’ve reserved the date.
I’m writing to tell you about an early wedding gift.
It’s from my mom, your Grandma Thornton.
Yes, before she died, she told me, very specifically: “I want you to give my good silverware to Vinca when she gets married.”
When I was growing up, we used “the good silverware” (it’s silverplate, not sterling, BTW) only for special occasions like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and celebratory dinners with guests.
Google “oneida grenoble prestige silverplate flatware” to learn more about it.
The complete service for 12 (including 12 extra teaspoons and assorted serving utensils) is in fabulous condition and does not need polishing even after all these years. Apparently, the magic wooden “Tarnish Resisting Chest” (so affirms the interior label), in which it originally came, really did its job!
Why am I telling you about this so far in advance?
As your aunt… I am hoping that you will love, use, and cherish this gift from your grandmother who loved you dearly and who did not get to spend nearly enough time with you.
And…as a professional organizer… I am keenly aware that younger generations don’t always like the things their elders leave to them. If I had a nickel for every article I’ve read, or every client I’ve had, where the kids didn’t want their parents’ stuff, I’d be able to retire by now. They have different tastes. They have homes of their own full of stuff of their own. Sometimes they both get lucky with a mutually admired heirloom gift. But there is usually too much stuff to count on this happening with all of the things.
So I’m telling you now, for the following reasons:
If you DO want your grandma’s “good silverware”….
- You might like it enough to use every day. (I always encourage my clients to use the things they love, and to not save them, because it so often leads to never using them.) Here is a blog post I wrote about using keepsakes, featuring some more of my mom’s things.
- In which case, you might want to put something else on your gift registry besides flatware. (If you’re going to have a registry.)
If you DON’T want it…..
- I won’t have to lug it to Missouri with me when I attend your wedding. LOL?
- I will either keep it or find something else to do with it.
- You do not need to feel guilty about not keeping it. Despite the fact that it was literally a deathbed wish. (Feeling guilty yet? Just kidding!) Your grandma wouldn’t want to burden you with a well-intended but unwanted gift, and neither do I.
Here are some ideas for ways you can use it:
- Use it every day – if you like it, why not? Many people do. It requires special care, though. It wouldn’t be hard to maintain, but there are a few things to keep in mind: hand-washing preferred; don’t mix it with stainless steel items in a dishwasher; wash or rinse right away (don’t let food, especially anything acidic, sit on it), polishing not needed as often as you’d think. Here are some cleaning tips.
- Use it only on special occasions, like we did.
- Pass it down to your own children with stories about their Thornton great-grandparents and their Great Aunt Hazel.
- Sell it on eBay
- Sell it on Replacements.com
- Make jewelry out of it (if you make earrings like these, though, I want a pair!)
- Whatever you think of and want to do with it
You don’t have to decide now. And whatever you decide now you can change your mind later, too.
I’ve had it this long. I can keep it awhile longer. (It’s in my will that it’s yours, though, lol!)
Meanwhile, I’m really curious what your initial thoughts are….???
Also November 2019:
Hello Aunt Hazel,
I am excited to hear that you reserved the date and am looking forward to seeing you, catching up, and having you be a part of this exciting chapter of my life.
I was elated when I received your email about the silverware. It blows my mind that my grandmother was thinking of me getting married and needing silverware twenty years ago and how she will still be with me even now when I create my own family and memories. It looks beautiful and I cannot even put into words how touched I am. I have few memories of my grandmother, but my mom often says that she sees her in me and the memories I do have are good ones.
That being said, I would love, cherish, and use the silverware as intended even though your jewelry idea was clever and well intended. I appreciate how thorough my professional organizer Aunt really is. I will have to learn how to properly take care of it, but I will use it.
Thank you for sharing all of this with me. I know that I am terrible at communication, but I do care about you and our love of books and the fact that we are family.
(My reaction: Yayyy!)
UPDATE: Mystery solved!
Vinca and Heath did get married, as scheduled, in May 2020. But much of our side of the family was unable to attend due to COVID.
Also, just a few weeks ago, my dad died.
What does that have to do with this story?
Well, he couldn’t remember where the silverware had come from when I asked him. Wedding gift to them both, maybe? (From whom, if so?)
But, in his papers, the other day, I found a ledger of income and expenses that I think answers the question.
In Feb. 1956, four months before their wedding, he spent $39.00 on “Silverware (for Ethel)”.
Ding, ding, ding!
At any rate, it’s the most obvious explanation: A gift for his bride.
(The 2021 value of $39.00 in 1956 is $393.31. This make it a significant purchase for my father in 1956, but has no bearing on the value of the “silverware” today.)
Vinca and Heath are here in Albuquerque as I write. They flew in to get Dad’s car, because they are currently the ones in the greatest need of one. The cost of plane tickets made sense considering the current disruption of new car supply chains and a corresponding shortage of used cars. So, they will drive home with a “new” car full of Vinca’s grandpa’s books, some of his paintings…and her grandma’s good silverware. Drive safely, Vinca and Heath!
Reader, have you ever tried to pass on an heirloom that was unwanted?
What did you end up doing with it?
Please share with us in the comments!
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