Well, where did December go?
My grandmother lives far away in another state, as do my parents. And all are very fragile at the moment. So the man about the place had to go on a spur of the moment trip to my grandmother’s cottage and move out some of her things because it is looking more and more likely that she will need more full time care. At 93, she is showing signs of needing someone else to help organize her affairs, so he will be returning at the end of next week – this time by airplane at the end of a previously scheduled business trip and not towing a Uhaul behind him. I will remain here giving final exams and making sure my boys get to their basketball games and such.
So I had to organize much of the holidays on my own while the trip was being made. Family was hosted, food was cooked, presents bought and given and made….some things went by the wayside due to shortage of time – but noone noticed I don’t think, so I call that successful.
And then there was the task of sorting through the stuff that made the cross country trip.
What do you keep? What do you discard? How do you make these decisions with pieces of family history?For me, it came down to whether or not I could use it.
Some things have serious sentimental attachment, and it is okay to keep a certain amount of those things if there is room to store it. I had room for Sunday Go to Meeting gloves – women still wore them when I was small, and I even had them at Easter early on. So I kept the gloves.
And then there were the bedspreads My great grandfather’s sister was named Vera. And she crocheted until she died – I have often heard it said that everyone knew the minute she couldn’t crochet anymore, she would die, and apparently that is what she did. She and her husband had a turkey farm, where my mother was terrorized by being surrounded by a flock of turkeys when she was about 3. In any case, Aunty Vera had crocheted a bedspread for my grandmother as a wedding gift in 1938. And now, I will care for it. That much time and effort and love put into anything deserves to be preserved.
At some point Vera gave my grandmother a second bedspread – so I now have 2 beautiful works of art.
This second one has dozens of tiny baubles on it. When I was born, Vera and her husband Henry sent my mother a tiny ID bracelet for me – has my name on it – and maybe I even met them as an infant. But other than that knowledge and some ancient photos, I can only imagine their life on a turkey/poultry farm in the 30s and 40s and 50s. Family history.
There are tons of photos, and ancient letters. I am keeping those that I know something about. Many are photos other family members sent to my great grandmother – new baby photos, and Christmas photos – that then became my grandmothers when great grandma died. So now I am sending them on, back to those families – time to pass them on to their children who are mostly now grown and starting their own families.
And then there are the projects. My grandmother was a crafty, artistic person. There are dozens and dozens of patterns and oodles of art supplies and fabrics. I have had to be ruthless about this stuff. Most of it is so dated, and not my style. So we have sent it on to people we hope can use it, or given it to GoodWill. But there were a few things I kept. I found a set of placemats and napkins someone was embroidering.
One last placemat needed the three strands of gold thread couched on it. A 15 minute job at best was all that stood between a craft project and a useful article. I know all too well how something gets set aside just needing button holes, or a hem, or the ends sewn in. Well, I took 15 min and completed the last one. I can use these – although not sure the embroidery thread is colorfast, or how long the gold thread will hold up. But I will use them and honor the work that went into making them.
And I will vow this summer to finish projects and cull my own stash to make sure no one else will have to finish my work someday – although frankly, I found it oddly enjoyable and didn’t mind a bit. Sorting through boxes, finding hidden treasures and tripping down memory lane was a nice way to spend the holidays.