Grandpa’s Cane and Other Heirlooms

Grandmother’s lace tablecloth and a cow bell grandpa used to call the family to prayer—these and other heirlooms often give life to the names on our pedigree charts.

Through heirlooms we remember the stories, interests, talents, and personalities of our ancestors. If you have not begun to create heirlooms in your family, now is the time to begin.

An heirloom can be anything that had special value to the original owner or his posterity. Heirlooms might include handmade items, clothing, personal writings and documents, pictures and personal items. Books, letters, a special handkerchief, or a pocket watch all remind us of our heritage.

In our family room hangs a rusty horse hitch that to anyone else might seem strange or out of place. However, this horse hitch was found at our great grandfather’s homestead and reminds us daily of the struggles and hardships he and his wife endured while raising a family of eight children in the mountains of Wyoming.

An old wooden barometer hangs in my parents’ home and draws the family closer to our grandfather who, during his life, would check its reading first thing each morning. As we grew, each family member would check its current reading on the way to breakfast, getting a glimpse of Grandfather’s daily routine and methodical habits.

In creating and preserving family heirlooms, the stories that make the items treasured should be with them. When I was young my mother gave me some handmade doll clothes. The clothes meant little to me until she told me these clothes were the first articles she learned to sew as a young girl in Holland. Each time I see those simple doll clothes I envision my mother as a young girl and I feel a special kind of closeness.

When preserving heirlooms, keep the following in mind. If possible, add a date and name to every article. If it is made of fabric, keep it clean and avoid storing it in plastic. A museum or library can help you learn the proper way to store fabrics, prints, newspaper articles, or family documents.

Remember to talk about your family treasures. While you build shelves, teach your children how great-grandpa had used that same saw and how he loved to work and build. Talk about the pictures or photographs you have hanging, or the craft items you’ve made. Read favorite books or poems together and talk about why those particular words touch you. At appropriate times give some of these things to others.

You can start creating family heirlooms—now. Start sewing, writing, painting, building, collecting. And most of all start sharing with those you love the memories they’ll never want to forget. Yvonne Dodenbier Miller, Houston, Texas

A Place for Everything, Even Me

If your home seems to have more human feet in it than square feet, finding private space may be a challenge. Arranging for privacy may take several steps.

1. Evaluate your needs. Where, when, and why does each member of your family need time alone? Mom and dad may need a time and place for planning or discussion; students may need a distraction-free area for study. Brothers and sisters may need a place to practice musical instruments, work on hobbies, or play with friends. A place for study, meditation, and prayer may also appear on your list of family privacy needs. Older children may feel strongly about the need for a conversation area for dates and friends, or just a place to be alone and dream.

2. Once you know your needs, try to meet them using the principles of sequencing and flexible planning. Sequencing is carefully ordering events to make the most sense and to accomplish your purpose. For instance, after dinner when students need to study quietly might be the right time for mom and dad to schedule quiet activities and a story time for younger children in another area of the home. At our house we have to carefully orchestrate a morning routine in order to provide time for prayer, music practice, and scripture reading with dad.

Flexible planning combines the ability to adapt plans and use different rooms creatively. We have used flexible sleeping arrangements to meet our family’s privacy needs. When our children were young they all slept in one room with bunk and trundle beds to free another room for toys. In our student apartment, we used a sofa bed in the family area so we could set aside a room for studying and sewing. Currently our boys enjoy sleeping on a pullout bed in the living room, leaving more floor space for play in their room.

We also use different areas for the same activity. Each of our rooms has a desk, chair, and bookshelf, and by using a small equipment box, activities or studies can be moved from one area to another as needed. “Picnicking” in a bedroom, practicing in the kitchen, or dressing in the laundry room can provide an unusual but private place for an activity or free up other areas of the home for different members’ needs.

3. Establish family policies. Practices such as leaving doors closed that are shut for privacy, speaking in soft voices, or restricting noisier activities such as television or loud music can cut down on confusion. Privacy can also be enhanced by simplifying the surroundings. Discarding or moving items can create the order and space necessary for a positive environment. Family members can be encouraged to find a special place they enjoy. As a child, my favorite “retreat” was an overstuffed chair next to a lamp where I could read.

Finally, we don’t need to restrict ourselves to a small indoor space. Christ went into the mountains to be alone; Joseph Smith went to the Sacred Grove. We can take advantage of yards, parks, libraries, or other resources our communities offer.

The Lord counseled us to enter into our closet, shut the door, and pray in secret. (See 3 Ne. 13:6.) Providing such a place for ourselves and our children is important and can be done in most circumstances. We should remember that the joy of a family is in living together, and privacy may be as much a function of careful planning, cooperation, and training as space. Julie H. Olson, Salt Lake City, Utah

Our “Thank-full” Turkey

Our family begins stuffing a Thanksgiving turkey on the first of November. The turkey is a small cardboard box covered with brown paper and then decorated with colorful paper feathers and a paper head.

This proud bird rests on our dining table until Thanksgiving day. Next to him is a pile of notepaper and a pencil. Whenever a family member thinks of something that he or she is thankful for, it is written on one of the papers and “stuffed” into the turkey. Little children dictate their messages to an older person.

On Thanksgiving morning, we “carve” our turkey and read aloud the many blessings for which we are thankful. Our gratitude extends from “a car that starts on cold mornings” to our love and appreciation for each other.

Our “thank-full turkey” helps our family to focus on our blessings for an entire month—a happy habit that helps us feel grateful all through the year. Janene Anna Milliken, Croton Falls, New York

[illustrations] Illustrated by Phyllis Luch