Family Heirlooms

By Doug Mayberry

June 10, 2019 5 min read

Q: I have many old, family heirlooms in my home and am excited to pass them along to a new generation. These old family pictures, china and silver all require special care and attention, and I've done my best to preserve them.

Although these objects are precious to me, I know all too well about how families lose things over time.

How can I make sure these items stay in the family for generations to come?

A: Give items to family members according to whom you think will care most for them.

Family heirlooms are our special treasures that we envision staying in the family for many generations to come. While they are fantastic items, they are only worth as much as the owner believes them to be. Their value goes beyond the monetary, and they can't be reacquired once lost.

Teaching the proper way to store and clean these items can be a bonding activity for you and the family member who will inherit the items. You can simultaneously teach your loved ones about the history of the item and its care requirements.

Our family histories are special to us and inform us of where we come from. Having physical objects connects us directly to the past and can help us place ourselves in the shoes of our ancestors.

However, these family histories are as vulnerable to the passage of time as the objects themselves. Although one of the best parts of our own histories is the storytelling process, the story itself changes over time. While we engage in the story while hearing it, it should be expected that details will be lost.

The best way to preserve family histories is to write them down and pass them along. For each item you intend to pass on, write the related story down and keep it with the item. That way, future generations will preserve the details.

As anybody who has a great storyteller in their life knows, written and oral stories capture different elements of our personal mythologies — the facts and personalities! Your heirs will benefit from having as much information as you can pass along. — Doug


Q: A lot of longtime chain stores in my area have gone under in the last few years, and many of the ones left don't have the things I need. Shopping online solves the inventory problems, but you can never be quite sure what you're getting.

I've gotten used to buying things online, but it still isn't my favorite method. It's better to see what you're buying in person!

My family has been helpful to me by returning things when necessary. The problem is that I always feel dependent on them to help me with my shopping. With smaller items, I generally just eat the loss, but I don't feel comfortable with buying more expensive things online.

What are some of your tips for online shopping and returns?

A: Experienced online shoppers often wait for sales and online coupons, especially ones that guarantee free shipping.

Unfortunately, sometimes you need an item quickly and don't have time to wait.

Before buying large items, check the website's return policy. Pay attention to the return time window and method. Online stores turn large profits, so most retailers try to make the shopping process as painless as possible with things like free return shipping labels.

Large retailers generally have lenient return policies, but do the research with smaller online shops. They often have smaller return windows and may not cover the return cost.

If you are unsure about an item, keep the box! You can use it to return the item if you change your mind.

For your favorite retailers, create an account and subscribe to their mailing lists. You'll get information about sales and special discounts, as well as easy access to your purchase history and returns. — Emma, Doug's granddaughter

Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California retirement community. Contact him at [email protected] Emma, Doug's granddaughter, helps write this column. To find out more about Doug Mayberry and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: VinnyCiro at Pixabay

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