Today's thoughts are about the changes happening with different generations and their views about family heirlooms and inheritance of the personal items of ancestors.. Many people (including me) think that hanging on to cherished items, some rather old and passed down through generations will be appreciated and desired by our children. However, that type of thinking seems to be changing with younger people. More young people now view our treasured collections and memorabilia as outdated, a burden, or not desirable to receive or keep.
Ouch! That really hurts. What's really important to us does not necessarily transfer over to the next generation's lifestyle. The New York Times article with link listed below states: "A meaningful legacy is one that matters both to giver and to taker." That's definitely something to keep in mind.
I do have to admit that my thoughts about some family possessions have also "changed" a bit compared to my parents. So I kind of "get it", when it comes to feelings of detachment from family possessions. My dad proudly wanted to pass along my mom's Persian lamb coat for me to wear. (Uh, not something I really desired). I passed on the offering. It ended up going to their grandson's wife. Prior to that, my mom gave me her very expensive (when they bought it), mink stole. (Again, not something I really desired). I took it though, and hung on to it to make her happy and to be able to show it to her if she asked. Ironically, mom never really loved those furs, but dad was insistent about buying them for her. I think it was more about him than her. Wearing furs back then was a sign of "making it" in life. I still have it, but not for long, I hope. The "mink coat" article links appearing below offer an interesting look at the dilemma of the "inherited mink coat".
I've noticed this "change" over time as estate sales seem to have more sentimental and personal items, some very personal, for sale. I am surprised to see very personal and irreplaceable items like ancestors photographs, photo albums, scrapbooks, family bibles, military medals and uniforms offered at estate sales. There's also usable and nice looking furniture, household items, collectables, vintage or antique items, all priced, displayed and ready to sell. I've seen the same on Craigs List. It's not just moving sales you see listed, but children selling their parent's or grandparent's stuff because they just don't want it. As an article in the Star Tribune stated "Scattered families, warp-speed lifestyles and changing tastes have resulted in a growing inventory of orphaned heirlooms - from fine china and formal furniture to old photos and love letters."
The article goes on to say that children and grandchildren don't place the same value on inherited and heirloom possessions. One reason claimed is that people have changed and now value time and experiences more than objects. A lifestyle of mobility makes inheriting "stuff" a burden. I can't help but wonder if they will regret that thinking when they are seniors themselves, and thinking about passing on their things. Once items from the family legacy are gone, they cannot be retrieved.
As a result, as more collections and possessions are entering the market to be sold, the supply is surpassing demand and monetary value of items are dropping. Some things aren't even desirable when free. Big, formal, heavy furniture is less desirable. Older but serviceable pianos are hard to sell, and lately, I have seen them being given away and/or scrapped! Some are very beautiful antique and vintage pianos with carvings and unusual wood grains.
Below are links to stories about the change in lifestyle of generations and what families are facing when trying to deal with the inherited "stuff". I know that personally, we are in the process of decluttering and minimalizing. I'm taking a hard look at some of the family heirlooms and sentimental items and trying to make decisions. That includes some of the "stuff" from my parents that made it's way into my house after dissolving their estate. Some pieces are special to me, but will my kids want them? I really don't know. Maybe I'll just let it be and let the kids can sort it out when I'm gone. At least then I won't know about what happens!
Articles about changes in how generations view heirlooms:
Here's some great articles about family legacy and the "inherited mink coat".....