Chances are, you never use your mother’s or your grandmother’s wedding silver although it’s neatly stored in the attic because you think it would make you a terrible person to sell it. So what do you want your kids and grandkids to have that won’t weigh them down in the same way the silver does? Here are five ideas to get you started:
1. A sentimental piece of jewelry and/or clothing
It’s not unusual for diamond rings to be passed down from generation to generation. But if it’s something that will likely just sit in a box at home or in a bank and doesn’t really hold any sentimental value, then why hold on to it at all? Leave your kids or grandkids things that really mean something to you, whether it’s the ring you got at your Sweet 16 or the necklace you bought during your first trip to Paris. When it comes to clothing, wouldn’t you love to have the jacket your own grandmother wore every day when she was in her 20s? Everybody saves wedding dresses and baby clothes. But your dad’s varsity jacket or your mom’s pencil skirt may be more appreciated. And all trends do have a tendency to come back in, so your grandkids may actually want to wear these items someday.
2. Something mortifying from your childhood
Most people save their wedding photos to pass on to their kids and grandkids — and that’s great. But what about a memento that reveals your youthful angst? Some token that gives your offspring a real window into the younger you? Maybe it’s a hideous Christmas sweater your parents used to make you wear. Or a photo of an embarrassed you and your siblings wearing matching outfits. These are the things that made you who you are today. People love looking at and sharing these photos so much, those that really get at the nitty-gritty of a family, that there’s even a website to showcase them: AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com.
3. Favorite family recipes
For many, food and family are intimately intertwined. Every family has their favorite dishes, and documenting the recipes behind them helps keep the legacy of our loved ones alive. Of course there’s no need to save every single recipe you’ve ever made. But a couple representing your family’s favorites, plus a few handed down to you from your parents and grandparents, would make a treasured gift. You can preserve family recipes by laminating the recipe cards or by scanning them so you have digital files, as well. Or do it the old-fashioned way and simply create a keepsake binder that holds the secret to making your family’s signature dishes.
4. Your family history
So many people have lost parents or grandparents and then lamented the fact that they failed to write down all the stories they heard from them. Once upon a time, genealogy projects consisted mostly of recording names and dates in the family Bible. But today there are websites that help you record oral histories and put together trivia games that make the project intergenerational. Research where your ancestors came from by checking out Ancestry.com, Archives.gov. and FamilySearch.org. Write down your own memories of your childhood and of raising your children. If you still have kids at home, take photos of their bedrooms. Years from now, it will be fun to look back at them.
5. Cherished items that can be repurposed
Getting your great-grandmother’s teapot that can now be used as a vase is one thing. Getting a giant oil painting of long-lost cousin Frederick is quite another. Who wouldn’t love to have a set of the brightly colored Fiesta dinnerware introduced in 1936? Leave behind items that your kids and grandkids might actually be able to use or repurpose. A stack of vintage doilies can be turned into framed art; old buttons can be made into lovely hair decorations when attached to bobby pins.
The bottom line: Family history doesn’t come alive if it’s buried in an attic or in the back of a drawer. Give things that can be brought out into the open as reminders of loved ones.
Also of Interest:
- Planning for the future you want — will you have enough savings?
- Tips for retiring on Social Security alone
- Are you on track for retirement?
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