It could be something as simple as a quilt or a rocking chair, writes Marchelle Abrahams.
Family heirlooms are precious mementos that trigger a memory and sometimes feelings of happiness, sadness and longing.
There’s no denying there is something romantic and even magical about inheriting a piece of tangible history.
We pass on what we hold dear, and keep what gives us comfort. For these reasons, objects which have been handed down from generation to generation have more meaning for us than their weight in gold.
What is your most treasured item? Is it something you inherited? We asked the question on social media and these are just a few of the responses we got:
Bee Stewart’s “something old” on her wedding day was a tea cup and saucer set her mother had given her for her special day.
“I had no idea about the tradition until she gave it to me, so it was a lovely surprise,” said the Australian patissier, who now resides in the south of France.
“We have a lot of things from previous generations. I like the connection with the past and the stories that go with them, especially in a place like Australia, where people come from all over the world.”
When her mother passed away, Avril Hermanus inherited some of her furniture. The solid oak pieces now have pride of place in her home. “I got her dressing table, wardrobe and sideboard,” said the school nurse.
Even though the antique furniture might be worth lots today, she would never consider selling any. “They were part of my childhood. I can remember hiding my money in the dressing table drawer and then it was stolen. To this day, I still don’t know who the culprit was.”
‘I still hold onto it’
“My grandma died when I was in Grade 11. I was the youngest of her 28 grandchildren at the time,” said online editor Kim Kay.
“I remember when I was a baby I would sit on her lap and play with her wedding ring. As I grew older, I would always remind her that when she died I wanted her wedding ring. She would just laugh and say ‘Ja, my kind’ (Yes, my child).”
Kay eventually inherited her gran’s wedding ring when her aunt gave it to her on the evening of her death. She’s worn it ever since, until two years ago.
“It had to be cut off my finger because it became too small, but I still hold onto it. I’m planning to add it to a chain for my daughter.”
We’ll always have Naples
Tom Holford spoke of a 75-year-old necklace his Italian granny of 95 who only recently mentioned its origin to close family members - a present from her first and true love.
“It has an amazing story behind it. I can’t believe she kept it to herself for so long,” Holford said after describing it as having all the ingredients for a romance novel: love, loss and longing.
“I know my gran’s dad was very strict while she was growing up in Naples. At the time, she was seeing this guy called Peter. Long story short, her sister basically told their father about him and they had to end it very quickly.”
Holford’s gran, Tonella, didn’t see Peter again after that. He went off to fight in world War II and was killed.
Holford described how after telling him the story, she left for a while and came back with the necklace.
“She had it for over 75 years and even named her first-born after him.”
Taking a gamble
Lifestyle editor Sarene Kloren inherited her grandmother’s diamond ring from her late mother, making her the third generation woman to wear it in her family.
And like all inherited jewellery, the diamond has quite a story behind it.
“My grandmother owned the Majestic Mansions Tea Lounge in Muizenberg when it was a real English-style tea room, serving high tea with cakes and home-made breads from silver teapots and porcelain crockery.