Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Heirloom Beginnings

The back two items are still awaiting their polish...
I've long found it fascinating how someone can cross our life for only a few minute but have a significant impact.  That is what happened to me fourteen or more years ago when I was at an estate yard sale.  All the items for sale had once belonged to the mother of the sisters holding the sale.  As they told me, all of this was left even after each daughter and their children had chosen what they wanted to keep.

As I scanned each table (most likely looking for vintage teacups and linens), I stood by a woman who was gently picking up the most beautiful bird figurines I think I've ever seen.  We talked about how pretty they were and I continued on my way looking for treasures but we ended beside each other to pay for the items we chose.

The woman apologized that it was taking awhile, for she had decided to purchase all the bird figurines and the ladies were carefully wrapping each one.  I remember I had plenty of time so we chatted as she waited.  She told me she had always wished she had inherited pretty things, heirlooms from past generations.

She often felt sorry for herself that she didn't.  But when she looked at these birds that she fell in love with, she asked herself why she couldn't start with another woman's collection.  Purchasing all the figurines (and they weren't cheap even at a yard sale) was her gift to herself... the beginning of her heirlooms.

I can't tell you how many times through the years I was happy God let me be there when she had her epiphany.   For it sparked one in me, too.  But I didn't realize how much until a couple years later.

I was wandering through a store which sold antiques, vintage items, and a variety of folk art made by local crafters.  I don't recall why I had stopped by the store that day but as usual I enjoyed just walking amongst each area, thinking of how an item would look in my home and checking prices.

When I came upon a beautiful but badly tarnished silver tea service.  It reminded me of the beautiful silver I loved to look at in the pictures of the old Victoria magazine.  I always stopped to appreciate the look of the silver and how it had the affect of jewelry in an elegant setting.  I wished I had inherited silver...

But neither my parents nor my in-laws were the entertaining-with-silver types.  Neither was to the manor born.  Although both mothers appreciated beautiful things, I'm certain both also considered silver too pretentious.  I, too, considered it above my standard in life.  I also thought it beautiful but for those who lived in very large mansions.

So when I saw the silver set, I was curious enough to check the price.  The entire set including the large silver platter it set upon was only $25.00.  Most likely because it was quite tarnished.

My thoughts instantly went to that estate yard sale and the words of my standing-in-line companion.  Why not let the heirlooms begin with me?  So that day I bought silver and added silver polish to the grocery list.  The set polished beautifully and since that time, I have added a few pieces for just dollars from Goodwill and thrift stores.

For you see... there is a beginning to every heirloom.  Each item was either made or purchased by one who loves Beauty.  Whether a quilt hand-stitched by a prairie farm wife, precious wedding china, a fine china teapot, a vintage vase, a first edition of a favorite author, or a knitted sweater.

Don't ever think you are not worthy of heirloom quality.  For you are much loved by God and we know there is One with great carpentry skills contracting a home for you in Heaven... filled with Beauty.

Oh, my friend... it is wrong to covet riches and all the stuff the world has to offer.  But you were created with a longing for Beauty.  And when you ask Him to become part of the Journey.... well, He knows this thrift store that has just what your heart desires sitting in the back on a dusty shelf for a few dollars.

Really.  He does.  It has happened to me.

16 comments:

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

I have a few pieces of silver from my mother (including a teapot which really needs a good polishing1) and I have admired yours when you have posted photos on your blog. Most of the things I have I value for the human connections they have as well as their loveliness. I truly agree that we were created with a love of beauty and it is not the same as coveting. It is a blessing.

Cheryl said...

Thanks for sharing the story about the bird figurines, Brenda. For some unknown reason, that really touched my heart.

rebecca said...

:) It's happened to me, too! I think this makes it doubly special :)

suzanne said...

brenda, this post really opened my eyes. I come from a practical, not wealthy family, and the traditions of passing down fine things was never a part of the family history. I have often bemoaned the fact that I didn't inherit treasures to pass along to MY children. But you have shown that it is not too late to begin gathering heirlooms, whether material or spiritual.

Mary said...

It is so true that God knows what you want and opens a door for a moment to give an opportunity to acquire a little something. A couple of years ago, I wanted to have a tea cup collection. A small one - maybe 8 to 10 cups with saucers. Well, I didn't think it was right to spend money on that kind of thing because I hardly have company and it felt too extravagant. While thrifting, (I use to go once a week just to see) I would ALWAYS come across a beautiful cup and saucer (bone china) that would cost between $4.99 (the most expensive) and $1.99! Well, after a couple of months of "just seeing" I was able to build my small teacup collection and very reasonably. After I had my collection completed, every time I would go thrifting, either I couldn't find any more or the wanting to have more had left me. I had the collection I've always wanted, it was enough, and they're beautiful. I know that the Lord was in it. He gave me the desire of heart and he also showed me when to stop. Since then, I've been satisfied with what I did find and have no desire to want more. He does care about our wanting a little something nice and will provide that for us if only we can be patient in the looking and then not overdo it when it happens. :)

Terri Cheney said...

I always thought the Shabat evening ritual the most lovely of all the Jewish traditions, but not being born Jewish I had never had opportunity to gather those things nor even to see them since I knew no one who was Jewish.

Five or six years ago we began to be drawn to the Jewish roots of our Christian faith, which led first to incorporating Friday evening Shabat prayer in our home. We began with what we had...

But over time, in thrift stores and Goodwill I found the most beautiful pieces. Platters for the Challah,silver candlesticks and later a lovely two taper crystal candlestick, lovely old sherry glasses and hand blown glasses that we use for our Grape juice, an Imari plate that so closely resembled a Seder plate you'd never convince me it wasn't, linen napkin sets, and finally a Menorah. I don't think I paid more than $2-$5 for anything except the Menorah which was $8. It's a beautiful heavy brass piece beautifully detailed.

Each Friday evening when I set out table prior to sunset and I lay out these oh so beautiful pieces, I am amazed that God blessed me with all these lovely pieces to use.

Nana said...

Hi Brenda;
I was blessed by a Mom who also loved beautiful things. She traveled with my Dad all around the world, and when they passed away my brother, 2 sisters and I got to pick and choose what we wanted. Tea cups from England, blankets from India, beautiful silver and Irish tablecloths. Its been 47 years since their passing, and we all still cherish what we have. I have never ever been in a position to travel nor buy beautiful things. So I am so grateful for my inheritance from Mom. I entertain some and have used all of it many, many times over the years with such pleasure. I am so glad you met the Bird Lady and you bought the silver. God likes to give us beautiful things and he puts us in a position to obtain some beautiful things. Love and Hugs, Nana

Anonymous said...

My dad gave me a beautiful Kutani-ware tea set for Christmas, that he found among my mom's things, while cleaning out (again). I made room in my hutch this weekend, and then polished a lot of silver, as I moved things around. I love the amazing effect of a bit of polish & elbow grease! I have heirlooms that I will inherit someday, some that have come along the way, and a collection of glass birds that I started 2 decades ago, after admiring a glass bird of my grandmother's for years. I figure, as long as it has personal meaning, it's "heirloom." Thanks for the beautiful post.
-Connie in San Diego

Storybook Woods said...

Beautiful analogy Brenda. We are so tarnished and God still loves us. Clarice

Vee said...

What a lovely post. I like the way you think, though I am the very practical sort, too. I think that I need to give The Lord free rein here and just see what He will do.

(If I have been sitting here for hours, my apologies. I came in to put the computer to bed and found that your blog was still sitting here. Terrible of me.)

Mrs.Rabe said...

Oh Brenda. Yes. We can find heirlooms to beautify our homes, can't we. I grew up hearing my grandmother say of pretty things "that's not for people like us." I'd always think "people like who?" She never felt worthy of beauty - thought it was for rich people. I love beauty and know that my Father in Heaven owns the cattle on a thousand hills. I am the Kings daughter. It is right that I should love beauty.

I am teaching my children to love beauty as well. They are His children also.

Deanna

Kathryn Ross said...

YES!!!! Brenda - you've hit the nail on the head! I LOVE LOVE this post. I may want to use that last quote of yours in a book I'm writing - consider this my formal inquiry to the point - with siting, of course. God prompts me to go thrifting - I know it sounds crazy - but when I do on a particular day, He always leads me to a treasure through which He either provides a need or makes something of His Word alive to me - through beauty and the story captured in a tangible work of art. No matter that it might be made in China - SOMEONE designed it with Beauty. And, I have found - Beauty is purpose enough for the balm it is to the soul and spirit.
Joy!
Kathy

Anonymous said...

I love the things that I have inherited from family members--having that connection to them. But I also enjoy many things that I have "thrifted"--things that I was not brought up with in my home but that are beautiful and special to me. And I do believe God gives us many of the desires of our heart--just little extra blessings along the way. Blessings to you, Sharon D.

Judy said...

As someone who was very blessed financially in my early adult life, but for whom life has taken surprising and hard turns, small treasures from thrift stores are God's gracious reminder to me of His loving care, that He has not forgotten me, and that He has promised to provide. Lovely linens are my favourite 'heirloom' collection.

Deborah Montgomery said...

I think of it as "adopting." I feel so sad when I see a lovely piece of handwork, for example, in an antique store, an embroidered tablecloth someone spent hours working on. It seems so lonely and disrespectful to have it lying in a pile under a chair. So when I am able, I like to adopt lovely things and give them a home, and think of the person who so long ago worked on it. I feel that it somehow honors them.

Cheryl said...

This is a wonderful post. I love that you have "begun" heirlooms. I always say that using our heirlooms is what makes them beautiful and valuable. If no memories are attached, then they are just "stuff."