Three Things to Consider When Grandma Really Wants You to Have It
Family and traditions are extremely important. Every family has that treasure trove of things they are saving for the younger generation. This act of gifting can happen intentionally, with specific instructions of who is to receive the family album and cedar chest – or unintentionally, when there is a death that results in one unlucky family member inheriting an attic full of family memories, and the daunting task of trying to figure out the best thing to do with each and every item. Yikes!
Instead of dealing with years of uncertainty, guilt and, let’s face it, the burden of doing the right thing, why not try these three things:
Ask. Ask your daughter, granddaughter, godson, nephew, if they want the oak desk that would take up the floor space of most downtown condos. Then respect their answer. Simple, right? Asking is the simple part; accepting an answer that may not align with your wishes is a bit harder. But if receiving a gift is the moment in which we experience the most happiness, why would we force any physical item on someone who isn’t happy to receive it? Your gift will be received as more or an obligation, not a true gift.
Share the responsibility. Gather your extended family together to take that trip down Memory Lane. There’s no point sifting through pictures and chachkas all alone. Your cousins, aunts and uncles, may be very happy to reminisce with you. Getting the whole gang together is an opportunity for storytelling and laughs, maybe some tears too. But it also gives you a sense of who else may appreciate having a memento of that loved one, and removes the burden of guessing what the best course of action is. And keep in mind, if no one takes you up on your offer to attend that party on Memory Lane, take that as an indication that you need not worry about who else might be interested in receiving a keepsake.
Take some, not all. Passing down the family china, is a common practice. So too is passing down a collection of things, like spoons, stamps, pressed flowers, whatever! The reality is, we live a much faster paced life than our ancestors did. We don’t necessarily have the time to care for the collections, or hand-wash the china. Many people today prefer to spend their spare time enjoying adventure travel or pursuing intense fitness training. These choices do not lend themselves to having a home filled with objects that we seldom have the time to even acknowledge, much less celebrate and enjoy. Instead of taking on the full china cabinet or the complete collection, why not pick out a couple of favourites to showcase in your current life? You get to hang on to the memory, without being overwhelmed by it.