What can I take with me when I leave?

What can I take with me when I leave? I heard this question posed on the radio the other day while I was driving in my car. Situation: your home is on fire, your family is safely outside, you have just moments to grab a few precious items that you can carry in your arms. What to take? For me, it would definitely be photos of my family. However, there is no way I could carry all of them. My husband doesn’t call me “Gramma-razzi” for nothing. Ha ha.  I’d try to grab our birth certificates and vital paperwork. A family heirloom or two. The genealogy research I’m working on.  I would fail this simple test just based on the fact that I would have to do this quickly! Count in the fact that I have T-rex arms and I’m toast. Literally.

My Aunt called me. She is moving from a large two-story house to a small one level house. She had some items that she wanted me to look at and possibly take home. I am the unofficial “family historian”. I wear that title proudly, especially since the whole “Super-Model” thing never really took off.

Early 1900’s Glassware

Seems like it was time to pass on dishes from my great-great aunt. One piece was a compote dish that was used by the hostess to serve fruit. It is beautiful and has a matching lid. Clear glass and very heavy. It was a wedding gift in 1907. I’m amazed to think it is 110 years old. I daydream and wonder what stories this piece of glass would tell if it could. I have it proudly displayed on my kitchen table with candy. The dish better not tell stories about that.

Another piece was a highly decorated set of serving dishes with brightly colored flowers on them with gold trim around the wavy edges. This dish was called a “Strawberry set” and the main bowl would be filled with berries at a dinner party. The guests would then eat from the smaller bowls. It sounds so grand and fancy. Consequently, I may rethink my “I’m the hostess with the most-ess”  banter since I entertain with paper plates and plastic silverware! I wonder what great-great Aunt Aletha would think of that?

Most noteworthy, the difference between hand-cut glass and pressed glass is that the designs on the pressed glass edges are not sharp. I didn’t know that and I am excited to learn new things. And when a question like that comes up on Jeopardy, I’m ready! So, I was enthralled with two very delicate hand-cut glass bud vases. The glass is very thin and fragile.

Therefore, it seems that Great-great Aunt Aletha received amazing gifts for her wedding. As a result, it makes me wonder how fancy the wedding itself must have been!

Handmade Beauty

Imagine a  handmade inlaid wood lamp and table.  It has many layers and designs with subtle variations in the wood color. My paternal great uncle crafted these items in the 1950’s. He was from Scotland. The artistry is just incredible. So much detail and love went into their creation. Craftsmanship beyond my imagination. I pray that a disaster never strikes them down, especially while they reside in my home.

Dinner Parties and Days Gone By

Furthermore, Noritake China was synonymous with class and elegance. Dinner parties demanded fine china. Married couples picked out “good dishes” in their wedding registries. Fine china told you that you are a special guest. (Because I serve my guests on the finest quality paper plates I can afford, with the prettiest patterns available at Sam’s Club, I hope my guests realize how important they are to me!) Maybe one day I will get out all of the Noritake China and have a big party. We’ll eat from the lovely gold rimmed ivory plates with pink and purple flowers. Sip only the finest beverages from the lead crystal stemware.  We will be elegant. Seems like the biggest problem I will have that day is deciding which pizza toppings go best on Noritake China.

Finally, look around you. Tell the people you love that they are special. Give compliments (they’re complimentary). Praise your children for the small things. Thank the people you interact with for their service. Smile. Eat off the good dishes. Because in the end, what can I take with me? Nothing. In the event of a fire, there’s no way we can ever gather all the stuff we’d want to save. Consequently, if you could save everything that is meaningful to you I believe your insurance company will have a few questions!







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16 Responses to What can I take with me when I leave?

  1. janet says:

    I am also honored to have some of those things from great aunt aletha, which my mother in law entrusted me with many years ago. I consider them irreplaceable. complete strangers.. ie business persons doing work in our home have remarked.. do you know what you have there ? When I received these items I was told only very briefly who they had belonged to.. not really much detail.. although it was conveyed to me she had felt honored to have them. So I in turn am honored to be their custodian… some day to be passed down.
    What would I take with me.. hopefully photos of family and friends.. important papers.. probably would need at least a small truck.. so many things I would not want to be lost. choosing would be difficult.. under pressure probably near impossible… of course knowing all family was already safe would be a great relief

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  8. Pauline says:

    Makes me really think about what is actually important, we get so caught up in stuff that we sometimes forget that it is our relationship with others that really counts. Spending time helping go through all those wonderful treasures probably meant more to your Aunt then anything. So… as far as what I would take with me, nothing. Pictures are nice, heirlooms are, our connection with the past and nice to have but as long as all the people, and pets are out of the fire safely, I wouldn’t go back for anything. Great article.

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