Friday, December 9, 2011

Hand Me Down

With our bellies full and our sights already set on the joyful tasks of the coming season, my husband and I began pulling out our Christmas decorations over Thanksgiving weekend.  To call them our Christmas decorations may be a bit of a misnomer, however.  It’s true that the decorations are stored at our house now, and it’s true that, for the moment, they do belong to us, but the real truth is that these Christmas decorations, a lot like many of our possessions, are what you might call hand-me-downs.

You see many of the decorations that deck the halls of the Ross house are classic, maybe even a little vintage, passed down to us from our parents and grandparents and more precious than any brand new decorations could ever be. Each ornament has a story and memory attached to it, and when we start dragging all of those decorations out, the memories come with them. That’s what I love about hand-me-downs. Everything has a history, a story to tell, so that possessions take on a life of their own and become much more than simple “things.”

Since I was a little girl, I have lived in a world of hand-me-downs. Having a big sister meant that many of my toys had been played with before, carried on adventures through my sister’s imagination and then through mine as well. It wasn’t as if I didn’t have my own toys mind you, because I did. I had generous and loving parents who made sure I had everything I could ask for, but I also had parents who made me appreciate the little things in life, the simple moments, the beauty of imagination, and the joy and history of hand-me-downs.

To this day, I prefer old things over new. I drag my husband antiquing all of the time. We search for vintage Pyrex, handmade furniture, and all sorts of other treasures just waiting to reveal themselves. I love the thrill of finding something unique and old on a trip antiquing. I always try to imagine where that item came from, what stories it has to tell, what kind of people owned it before me.  I try to appreciate the history of something, while also giving it a chance to become a part of new stories and adventures.

Even our cats are hand-me-downs. Second-hand felines rescued from the Humane Society and brought to live among our rag-tag collection of antiques and uniques. They were all someone else’s discarded trash until they became a precious part of our family.

I’m sure that each of our cats have exciting stories to tell about the lives they led before they came to live with us. Just as I’m sure that the ornaments that Jeremy’s Granny made could tell all about the love she had in her heart as her hands crafted each one. Or the white oak basket that Papa made would tell of his love for Coca-Cola and biscuits and syrup and a favorite grandson that would become my Daddy. I would love to hear the tales that an abandoned biscuit cutter I bought for a dollar in a thrift store would tell of delicious meals and savory conversations over supper.

One day I’ll try to write down some of those stories, those moments of history caught forever in family Christmas decorations and vintage mixing bowls, just waiting to be handed down again so that the stories within them may continue forever. 

Is your life and home filled with hand-me-downs? Or do you prefer new over old?

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