Over the last few days, as I was cross stitching a scissors holder in Victorian style, using perforated paper and a variegated floss, I thought about several family heirlooms that were tucked away in my daughter’s bedroom. Initially I had only thought of using the scissors as a prop for a photoshoot for my handmade sewing notions, but as I opened the drawer I knew sharing the story about these special possessions would help to give you with some ideas on passing down your family heirlooms to the next generation.
I was in my thirties when I met my husband and I knew rather quickly that he was “Mr. Right”. Thankfully Dave had the same sentiments. Very early on in our dating life the conversation turned to the names we would select for our children, probably not your typical date talk. I had four very specific requirements for names, the name needed to be one that couldn’t be shortened, it couldn’t rhyme with our last name, the monogram had to look cool and the name had to be classic, with a meaning.
Our attention turned first to chatting about a girl’s name most likely because so many classic boys names had already been used in my family. My poor mother and dad had to come up with seven boys names. After saying a few names out loud along with our last name we selected Hannah and instantly loved that name. That beautiful first name needed a classic and meaningful middle name. I had always been very close to my Grandma Irene. She taught me how to sew and craft, would rescue me from my large family to take me shopping for clothes my mother would never have purchased. She always did all those things that special grandmothers do. Somehow I wanted to include her in a future daughter’s name.
As a young child my grandmother took me to my Great-Grandmother’s house for a visits. She referred to her as my “Great-Grandma Bredael”. I don’t have many recollections of my Great-Grandmother other than she lived in a huge house with a parlor that held a love seat stuffed with horse hair and a dining room with a large round table that always had a tablecloth and linen napkins on it even if a meal was not being served. My grandmother’s maiden name “Bredael” was the perfect way to add the classic touch to the name Hannah. So two years before we married and four years before our daughter was born, we knew if we had a daughter her name would be Hannah Bredael Virlee.
Hannah is very special to our entire family as she came to us as a gift, through adoption. As the nurse placed her in my arms minutes after she was born and I gazed into those beautiful eyes with the longest lashes, I knew Hannah Bredael was exactly the perfect name. Through tears and a shaky voice, I said, I love you Hannah Bredael for the very first time. Imagine my joy when I called my grandmother later that afternoon and told her she could now welcome her newest great-grandchild named for her. My grandmother was so honored and she continued to share that special connection with my daughter in many ways, including passing down family heirlooms that were in the Bredael family.
For Hannah’s third birthday along with a typical kid gift, my grandmother enclosed this silver embroidery scissors, complete with the hand written note describing its connection to the Bredael name and the history of this family heirloom. Not only does my daughter have something her namesake frequently used throughout 48 years of her life, but she has that history written in the script of her Great-Grandma Irene’s hand. The note makes it a historical artifact, including information like the date of purchase along with the price and how it came into the family is such great documentation. The written history along with the history could be framed.
The ruby ring was given to Hannah by her Great-Aunt Lois for a high school graduation gift. My grandmother had given the ring to her daughter Lois in 1981 as a gift. Lois thought it was important for the girl who carried the family name to have this exquisite antique ring in her possession. My grandmother had the history of the ring written, carefully folded and tucked in the top of the ring box. This beautiful ring is 121 years old. Although the ring box isn’t original to the ruby ring, it is another piece of family history. It is beautiful, the blue velvet case has a velvet and silk lining and closes with a mother of pearl knob. Jewelers sure knew how to create beautiful presentations 94 years ago. Read the hand written note to learn how this exquisite box became a family heirloom.
I have begun to write the history and information about special heirlooms in my house and somehow store that information with the item. As I peruse my house there is a lot of writing and documentation that needs to be done. My plan is to do one room at a time. If you enjoy reading about family heirlooms check this post out. Since so many heirlooms have great stories I know I will be sharing information on passing down family heirlooms with you.