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DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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24 September 2012

Far better than riches

My sister Tricia is visiting from the Blue Mountains so we took the opportunity to invite our cousin Susie and her husband, Nick, over for lunch. They live nearby and we don't often see them but when Tricia is here it always seems right to invite them over for a meal.  Tricia came up to collect a very precious piece of our family's hertitage - the bassinet that our mother bought for Tricia and I to sleep in when we were babies. The bassinet has moved around the family since then. Our mum lent it to her sister, Joy, so Susie and her brother Stephen slept in it as newborns, and Susie's three children and her grandson all slept in that cradle.

Nearly 70 years old now, this basinette is ready to go back to work again.

Now it's going back into service again. Tricia's son Daniel and his girlfriend Laura are expecting their first baby in November. Tricia is set to be a grandma for the first time! It didn't take much thought for her to drive all the way up here to collect it. We've been talking about it for a while now and wondered if it had been repaired or if it needed to be. When Nick lifted it out of the car, it was just as beautiful as when our mother bought it - an old wicker bassinet, still white, still sturdy and sweet, and ready for our family's newest baby. I am really excited to meet Daniel and Laura's baby and to know s/he will sleep in the same tiny bed that Tricia and I slept in reminds me, yet again, of the value of a strong and loving family.


We sat around the table yesterday, looking at old photos Susie brought along and it dawned on me that these small and large pieces of our family memorabilia are part of what holds us together. The passing on ritual helps bring new members into our family while showing the younger members that they too are keepers of our family traditions and precious heirlooms. It reminds us that what we believe is important, is not always financially valuable, but always emotionally valuable and loved.

Yesterday, I looked around our kitchen table and all of us who were girls together are now in our 60s and grandmothers, or soon-to-be. Back then I thought I would always be young, probably just like you do. But here we are, talking about our children and their children and it feels good and right to be this age and passing on the important parts of our family's story, giving the material pieces of our family to those who come after us, and making sure our family remains strong and always supportive. Our babies will never be born into wealth or privilege but they are born into a loving family, and that, I believe, is far better than riches.

What important pieces have you passed along to your younger family members?

40 comments:

  1. There an high chair that most of us cousin sat in..We're born between the years of 1945 to 1965.
    Coffee is on.

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  2. What a lovely cradle! Obviously made to last too.
    We do think we will be young forever. We became Grandparents earlier this year, a beautiful little girl for our lovely daughter & her husband. I wish I'd had something like that cradle to pass on.
    best wishes,
    Angela (south England UK)

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  3. The warm fireplaceSeptember 24, 2012 5:28 am

    Our family has a singer sewing machine that is over 100 years old, my husbands great grandmothers, her husband was struck by lightening whilst sheltering under a tree, there son was 2 at the time, his wife had to take in sewing to keep them alive using the machine, it was passed onto the son and then their daughter(my husbands mother) now our daughter has just got married and i have passed it onto her. It is so very important family connections that reach into the past.
    Sue

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  4. A beautiful post today Rhonda. The strength we find within our families. Thank you for sharing this with us.

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  5. That's a beautiful bassinet Rhonda, and so nice that it has been shared for do many years. You have a really solid family unit - and yes that is worth much much more than anything money can buy.
    My mum passed on a lovely hand crocheted white baby shawl to me when my first daughter was born. It was made by my Great grandma and has been used for 4 generations of babies now. I now have it safely tucked away for when my girls grow up and have children.
    It's heart warming to know that the blanket I wrapped my babies in also kept me, my 3 brothers and sister and my mum, Aubrey and my Nanna warm as a baby too.
    Have a great day
    Sarah from Jimboomba

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  6. What a lovely post. I am so glad you were all able to gather together and have this special time together sharing memories and making new memories as well. Sincere congratulations to Tricia!!! I would hope that we are able to pass on to our dd's when they are grown a sense of strength in who they are, their abilities and the knowledge of our unconditional love and support as they go through life and all of it's transitions. Physically I chronicle our family's story into scrapbooks and memory albums to pass on for future generations with written stories and memories so they are not lost over the years. These moments in our lives the stories and people in our families, are what life is about and these generations are the thread woven to become the fabric of our families.

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  7. I will not bore you with too much detail and neither do I want your sympathy only your understanding. Due to my childhood family breakdown ending in divorce and my own first marriage ending in divorce a lot of family momentos have disappeared leaving precious little tangible items to pass on to my daughter and son who now have families of their own. However even as grownup as my children are they still ask their Mum for her opinion and what I pass on to them is the knowledge to do what they think and feel is right for themselves and their family/s.

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    1. thank you pigsmightfly. My family is fractured, not because of divorce but because my siblings (from 8 years older to 19 years older) have decided to break themselves off of my family tree. I have a few things of my mother's. Your last line resonated with me - because that is what I have chosen to do with my life and that is what my siblings have rejected. I am who I am and I am called to be the best me I can be. I pray that some day the fracture can be repaired. Until then I treasure my treasures and live my life to the fullest. No sympathy needed. Life is good.

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  8. What a beautiful post. Most people live without privilage and its a wonderful reminder that family is more precious than privilage, power or wealth. Keeping traditions and passing on "family" is MUCH more important than any monetary gain. I am so glad that I found this blog recently. Thank you again for a lovely post

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  9. So precious! My mom saved a lot of my things from when I was a little girl, and I have many of them now for my daughter - the same high chair, clothes my grandma knitted, and a couple dolls. They are such treasures, indeed, and I'm proud to have them in my home. I love the idea of the younger generations becomming keepers of the family's history.
    -Jaime

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  10. We have a wicker bassinet just like it! It has been used in three branches of the family for four generations now. I also shared it with friends who lost their house in a bushfire just the day before their daughter was born. They said it helped ease some of their grief knowing she was in such a precious possession even though they had nothing.

    I'm a family hoarder and have my grandmother's furniture, crockery etc. Lucky me, and we use it all everyday 90 years on! Not new and stylish but I wouldn't swap any of it for the world...

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  11. We still have the bassinet my mother slept in as a baby. My daughter sleeps in it when we visit them. By coincidence my father slept in exactly the same model bassinet when he was a baby (and all 10 of his siblings) so the connection goes even further really. I love those tangible connections, I think it's very helpful for young children to be able to touch something and feel connection to their relations in the past.

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  12. Beautiful cane crib that's stood the test of time. We (my family) have my grandmother's old upright piano which she bought from the Yandina School of Arts many years ago, that she paid off at a shilling a week. It is still in perfect condition & currently resides in my niece's home in Ayr. We also have my father-in-laws diving helmet he wore whilst salvaging downed planes during WW2. Our family treasure's these material mementos of our history but recently it has come to light through a family members research, that my husband's great grandmother was an aboriginal lady from Dunwich. Sadly, this information had been suppressed years ago as a shameful union between an aboriginal woman & a white man. On being told of her aboriginal heritage, my daughter said, "I'm proud to say that not only have I been born an Australian, I now have an added genetic link to this great country I live in....... & why would I want to continue to suppress that fact".

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  13. In our family, there is a little yellow dress that all of the girls have been photographed in. The precious keepsake now resides in my closet - it has been worn by my four daughters and is in safe keeping for further children and / or grandchildren.

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  14. Hi Rhonda, have you seen the documentary, Happy? It came out last year. I just saw it yesterday and it made me so emotional. This post reminded me of it again. I think you'd like it. Please see it if you can.

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  15. My father made a change table with ample cupboard storage underneath. That lasted for my siblings and I nearly 40 years ago and I used it for my son 4 years ago and am still going now with my daughter. Hoping I will soon be able to pass it on to my sister when she has children and then again pass down to our children. When my father remarried 5 years ago it wasn't a happy occasion for us as he essentially threw out everything associated with his "old" life. It was sad seeing him throw out our handmade Christmas decorations from our childhoods and I was genuinely surprised the change table was kept but very grateful. You are right that these family keepsakes are so much more precious and worth more than all the money in the world!

    Sara

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  16. I love the tradition of handing down a practical and sentimental item through the generations of a family! My Dad made a cradle for us when I was pregnant with our first child and instead of washers he drilled holes in coins that were minted in the years my husband and I were born as well as the year our daughter was due. All 3 of of my kids have slept in the cradle and we intend to keep it for their children as well!
    When we head over to WA for a holiday I'm collecting the spinning wheel my Grandad made for my Mum (though it was my Dad who did all the spinning on it) which has the wheel from my Great Grandmother's treadle Singer sewing machine as part of it. I'm so excited to not only be recieving this beautifully crafted piece of family history, but also to be able to use it to spin yarn which I can then use to make something special for my kids!

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  17. Dear Rhonda
    We have a family wicker cot that my grandmother was in so was my Dad so was my son and daughter. Still going strong, ours would be 110 years old. I also have my grandmothers dresser and drawers and side table approx 60 years old, and a small ottoman that my kids sit on and I remember sitting on it as a small child and I am 44 years old. Thanks for reminding me, how important these peices are. Di

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  18. another moving post, brought tears to my eyes, you have a wonderful bonded family there rhonda, a real treasure to have, i thank you for sharing & please pass on my congrats to tricia.
    i only have a few things that were made for my children to pass onto them; there might've been more had my family not gone to pieces after my grandparents died, all their belongings & furniture was all auctioned off a long time ago.
    one thing we do have here is a sense of family that's growing as we all grow together.

    beautiful thanx

    selina from kilkivan qld

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  19. My first baby is due in about 3 weeks & i bought a beautiful second hand bassinett which i hope will be the passed down to any grandchildren one day. Our family is very close but there are no "heirlooms" to use with my baby which is a bit sad. Mum hasn't kept anything from myself or my siblings.

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  20. What a lovely family you have. For the most part, the greatest part of mine has not gotten together in many years. I am hoping to go to where most of them are (the West Coast) this next year and perhaps they will all get together again...one can hope anyway!! Unfortunately, our children did not grow up around extended family much as we lived away. And were not able to connect that often. So I think none of them find such things of much importance. But one must go where the work is when young. You are fortunate indeed with your family!! (It takes more than one person to make things happen!!)

    Elizabeth in NC

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  21. This post really made me smile and brought back memories. Like you we have a family heirloom wicker bassinet. My grandmother bought it when my dad was borne and since then it has been the first bed 40+ new family members including myself and both of my boys.
    Thank you for a lovely post that brought back some very fond memories.
    Anna

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  22. We have the same bassinet and it has had seventeen babies sleep in it. My three have but it is not mine so I will not be able to share the treasure. Much of the family stuff is very fractured as certain people cannot or will not share. Many photos etc have been destroyed in a house fire or deliberately. However bit by bit I have found some stuff in the state archives etc. Our precious things include a carving made by my grandfather, a little jewellery and some china. Most precious of all is my grandfather's violin which I have and only my eldest daughter can play so it will be hers. My uncle knew this and before he passed he gave my youngest girl his violin.

    So I have deliberately made some new treasures. Each child has an beautiful christening robe of their own and I hope that their father will share when the time comes. I try to make memory books and talk about my family. We do have some interesting stuff. Their father's family chooses to avoid this all together. The man has not been wonderful or equitable through our divorce and I had to restart with little. Unfortunately in the rush to leave I forgot many things. I will just say it was violent and I am better out.

    My son is now training as chef and he is so pleased to tell everyone that his great grandmother was a trained pastry chef. At present the best parts of his day involve making bread. I made sure to teach them granny's ways.

    Sorry for the long winded post but this has helped me no end.

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    1. Yes, you are best out of that. I'm pleased to know you are out and safe. It is a good idea to make your own family treasures. We do this when we make quilts, memory books and toys that can be passed down.

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  23. I did not grow up around extended family and missed that closeness that many feel to their grandparents, aunts and uncles. I have adult children now, as well as two grandchildren, and am very proud that we all live within just a few miles of each other. I never thought it would be this way, but I absolutely love it and feel very blessed. I recently got an old highchair out of our garage, the very chair that I sat in as a baby more than 55 years ago. Our little 9-month-old grandaughter uses it now when she is here. I have pictures of my own daughter sitting in it at my parents house many years ago. Thank you for your thought-provoking post, Rhonda.

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  24. How wonderful! We are making our own traditions in our family as well. :)

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  25. We have a wicker bassinette that gets passed around the family too. It's from my husband's family, and his twin brothers even slept in it together, as well as my husband and his 6 siblings. We have it at our house at the moment, because we have the youngest babies, but several of my nieces and nephews are married now, so I expect I'll have to pass it along to them before too long. I love family traditions like this!!!
    Rachel L from NZ

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  26. Very important post, we've recently welcomed our second baby (she's two weeks old) and my Grandmother just came down to visit us today and she gave me one sheet set I had when I was a baby and one sheet set and blanket my Mother had when she was a baby, they are beautiful and I'm so proud to pass them on to my daughter :)

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    1. What precious family heirlooms they are. I would be proud too. xx

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  27. What a lovely post! To be a keeper of family tradition and precious heirlooms....it's far better than riches indeed! The baby wicker basinette is a beauty too:)

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  28. What a lovely post.

    I thought I had passed on a tradition of bedtime 'special time' with bathtime, talking over the news of the day and reading a couple of chapters of a favourite book to each child, onto my older son, but I found out only the other day that his wife has other ideas. The children get put to bed and have a dvd of their favourite film or tv programme to watch until they fall asleep ....all alone in their individual rooms! Not my idea of 'family' at all.

    It made me feel so sad.

    Sue xx

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  29. My Grandma made a wicker crib when my eldest cousin was born. All 3 of my cousins, their cousins, my sister and I have all slept in it. My son was the first of the new generation to sleep in it and my daughter will soon be doing so too, when she is born in a months time. We also have many heirlooms from every branch of the family - from crocheted and knitted baby blankets on my mother's side, to Chinese mother and baby stools from my mother-in-law's family. Not only are these all still very practical and sentimental, they make our house feel much more like home and definitely more unique than buying everything new!
    Corinne from South East England

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  30. Posts extolling the fabulousness of family usually make me feel sad, as I have missed out on that joy. However, recently I passed on some special baby clothes (a christening gown, some handknit baby sweaters) that my mother had saved for me, to my nephew and his wife who are expecting their first child. We live very far apart, so I don't see them very much. But I hope they will enjoy the clothes and someday pass them down to their own children. Sending the baby clothes helped me feel connected, even in a very peripheral way.

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  31. Dear Rhonda, It's wonderful when treasured family heirlooms are passed on to the next generation. I have my mother's family cradle that her grandfather built for his 14 children. I know of at least 49 children that were rocked in it, including me, my kids and now my grandchildren. I'm getting it ready for our second granddaughter soon to be born. The paint is faded, a rocker is broken and it is very worn but to me it is beautiful! I also know people who were given "family treasures" only to discard them in the trash because they were old! For those who don't have the family tradition of passing on things start the tradition. Find an heirloom at a flea market, etc. or make something shown on this blog. Share something of yourself. I think one of the reasons so many people from around the world love Down to Earth is because you remind everyone of how important family is and also you make people feel like family. Thanks!


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    1. Dear Log Cabin Lady. What a wonderful treasure you have. Forty-nine babies! I love that. And you're still counting. To tell you the truth, I do feel a bit like a mother hen and the readers here are some of my chicks. I'm pleased you feel that. xx

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  32. Loved your post today! My sisters and I are taking my mother to lunch tomorrow, she is in her 80's and we are all grown with children and grands. I love that life just marches on, but it is truly up to us to make it worthwhile, and to pass on our rich heritage to our children! There is also nothing like just sitting around a table, reminising about good times, and just plain old life! Loved the pictures!

    I stockpile, especially at this time of year!

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  33. You are such a wise woman. I love your posts. For those readers who lament they have no heirlooms, I want to tell them to begin the tradition themselves. It has to start somewhere. It is perfectly alright if you have nothing from your past to pass on to others because of circumstances out of your control. Family treasures can be the smallest of things.

    My Dad use to frequent thrift shops for wooden boxes and other treasures. I have two wooden hinged boxes that he gave to me as gifts over the years. One of them has a lock and key. I put a ribbon thru the key so my daughter could use the key and keep track of it. These will one day go to my daughter, although she already considers them hers. :) I hope she will keep and treasure them like I have. Perhaps one day they will end up back in a thrift store and someone will love them again.

    Recently, my Mom and Dad passed away and we are in the process of cleaning out their home and selling it. My brothers, sisters and myself are taking things that have meaning to us. I took a teapot and matching tea bag holder that I had given to my Mom as a gift many years ago. It came from Ireland, her mother's homeland. Somewhere along the line, we all started giving my Dad carved wooden elephants. I don't remember which ones I gave him but I took one to keep. I also started two memory boxes for each of them. They include small things like jewelry they wore, my Dad's dog tags from the army, my Mom's pearls she wore at her wedding, etc. My Mom had boxes like these for each of her parents and I have fond memories of going through these items that belonged to people I never knew personally but were a connection to my past. My daughter is just three so I'm hoping these boxes will give her more of a connection to my parents as she grows older. None of items I have have much monetary value, but the sentimental value is very deep.m hoping we will all remain close.

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  34. That is a beautiful bassinet to hand down through the generations. I had a lovely wooden rocker with a rush woven seat and back that was a family heirloom. My mother used to rock her babies in it and I used it to rock my children. That chair meant so much to me. However, during the hurricane in New Orleans in 2005, my home flooded and all my furniture and possessions were destroyed. Along with the chair I had a handmade table from an old family farm in Maine and a beautiful dry sink that my father made. I mourned the loss of those pieces. I know it is all stuff....but some stuff definitely carries with it memories of a time past. Now I keep those memories in tucked away in my mind.

    Thank you for bringing thoughts of my precious heirlooms back to me.

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  35. This is so wonderful! To think of all the sweet baby dreams had in the bassinet!

    I am the keeper of some family artifacts because I have the best track record of keeping them in use. My favorites are glassware from my great grandmother via my great aunt and a collection of poetry written by my great-grandmother compiled by a great-cousin. There are also things of my sisters' (another poetry collection, an old cuddle blanket,etc) that I plan to send on to my nieces and nephews when they are a bit older.

    I love the feeling of giving and receiving something you know has been used by the family for generations.

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  36. It's beautiful Rhonda. While not quite as old (yet) I have been reflecting recently on the bassinet my mother in law kept from when her children were babies. So far all of her grandchildren (bar 1 because my sister in law had twins so only one of them could use it) have used it. We're having a "later in life" baby and the bassinet has just come back to me. It feels so special that my little bundle of joy is going to sleep in the same bed as all their cousins so far have.

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Thank you for your comment today. I love reading your opinions and thoughts. We have built up a wonderfully diverse community here that I'm very proud to be a part of.

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