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Family came to mind yesterday as I placed heirloom amber dishes in my cupboard. The more I studied these dishes collected and preserved to the fourth generation, they became symbolic of family lineage.

“You won’t want all of it,” my mother assured me when I picked up the first set of boxes last weekend. Notice I said first set. I surprised her a bit by all I did want.

Some pieces are precious for their personal meaning–the round jewelry box my grandmother filled with sugar cubes from which I sneaked several as a child.

I’m sure my eyes sparkled the way the amber does in the sunshine when my mother said I could have a cookie jar. But, it is not the cookie jar. That one has a chip on the lid, and Mom plans to keep that one from her childhood a bit longer.

My youngest son became enamored by the Viking ship that is truly a pickle dish, a scarab ashtray he claims looks like a pen holder, and the king-sized chalice that is actually a fruit bowl. If I had any doubt I would have anyone to pass these dishes on to, he has already laid claim to them whether his future wife agrees or not.

But, Mom was right. There were a few things I didn’t want. I rejected the warped and useless. These weren’t the endearing items with reminiscent chips like the flaws all families have or the grafted-in set with its alternative pattern. Those are acceptable. No, these were the ones that serve no purpose. They are pathetic imposters. Yet, it is difficult to know what to do with them. The original intent means they are not altogether meaningless.

Even so, I’ve chosen to let them go.

I do not desire for my son to be reminded of the ways the previous generations have blown it. Let him treasure the idiosyncratic nicks. But, let’s prevent a mishap and discard the misshapen as we are able. Why pass down the potential of spilled milk to the next generation…

when I can leave them sweet memories like sugar cubes in a jewelry box?

Categories: Character Study

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