The significance of family heirlooms isn’t lost on you. In fact, you’ve carefully stored them away for the next generation – only to discover they don’t want them.
It’s a dynamic playing out for many families as Millennials and Gen Y children trend toward a more minimalist living. Antique furniture, china, flatware and collectibles don’t fit in a lifestyle that favors sustainability and flexibility. Simply put, your kids don’t want to be tied down by stuff.
It creates a complicated range of emotions when you think about the memories, aspirations and dreams associated with family heirlooms. The china set meant for newlyweds to help them start their life together. The collectables that represented an investment that might prove valuable to later generations. The handcrafted furniture that showcased the skill and pride of the craftsman. To you, these items aren’t things. They’re memories and they’re part of your family history or legacy. It’s why you have carefully saved, protected and cared for them all these years. It’s why you planned to keep them in the family and pass them down to your kids, just like your parents and grandparents did. Except plans changed when your kids said, “No thank you.”
So, what do you do now? Here are a few things to consider when navigating this situation:
Don’t take it personally. Your kids aren’t rejecting you. They’re saying “No” to items and things.
It’s still a family heirloom even if it doesn’t stay in your family. A family friend might appreciate giving the antique table they’ve admired in your home a new home. A set of china could be loved and put to use in a local restaurant or tearoom. Knowing treasured items have found a new home can make it easier to move past initial hurt feelings or disappointment when your kids don’t want them.
Take a picture and put it on display. Memories live within people, not possessions. You don’t need the physical item in your home to recall what it means to you. A photo of Thanksgiving dinner with great-grandma’s china on the table is likely to be seen more often than the actual china set that’s packed away and only used for special occasions.
Record the story. If there’s a truly special piece that you will be letting go of, treat it like the piece of family history that it is. Write down your earliest memory of the item, your favorite memory, the memory you created with it in your own home and what it has meant to your family. Having the story in writing along with a photo helps ensure the memories won’t be forgotten and will remain part of your family history.
Go out in style. If you are parting with china, flatware or serving pieces, use them before you donate or relocate them to a new home. Create a new memory before it becomes part of someone else’s family story.
Be honest with yourself about the true value or significance of family treasures. Is it really something you need? Is it something of value? Does it bring you joy? Or will it simply go back in a box for someone else to deal with later? Downsizing now can ultimately be the best gift you can give your family.
You planned to keep certain items in the family by passing them down to your kids, just like your parents and grandparents did. Except plans changed when your kids said, “No thank you.”
My team and I can help you downsize and relocate cherished items. Send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s talk about what’s on your mind.