Legacy Books

Memory Books

Mandy Syers

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Write the history of your heirlooms

Family heirlooms often have monetary value, but when it comes to personal history, we are concerned with the sentimental value of things. If you opened your grandmother's jewelry box, would you know which pieces held emotional meaning for her? What about that battered old ring under the tangle of necklaces. Would you look at it differently if you knew that your grandfather pawned his violin -- that he brought with him when he immigrated from Italy -- to buy it as a placeholder until he could afford a real diamond engagement ring?

Without a story behind them, objects are just objects. You can add intrigue to your family keepsakes by writing down the memories that go with them. Start by photographing the heirloom. Write down who it belonged to, the dates, and any other factual information. Record where the object came from, the manner in which it was used, who made it, or why it was unique or significant. You may also note how much the object cost when it was bought, what it is worth now, and to whom it will be passed down. If there are any stories or memories associated with the heirloom, write those down too. For example, when your grandfather finally gave your grandmother a diamond ring as a tenth anniversary present, did you know that she made him return it so they could buy a freezer instead? Now you know where your own practical streak came from! When you pass down an heirloom, you not only pass down an object, but also a rich history unique to your family.

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