Holidays and Family Heirlooms

The holiday season brings both new family memories and, often, a nostalgic look back at past Christmases. I have wonderful memories of all those times long past and of the people with whom I shared them. I still can’t believe that, with the exception of my aunt and uncle, I am part of the senior generation of my family!

Being the keeper of the family history, I’ve been fortunate enough to also be the keeper of some family heirlooms. Most aren’t terribly old, nor are they museum-type pieces, but they have huge sentimental value.

I’ve written in the past about a set of china I inherited that originally belonged to my great grandmother’s sister, Melissa Stewart Findlay. When she passed away in 1913, my great grandmother, Annie Stewart Adams, inherited it. Next came Grandmother, Hazel Coleman Adams, who became the caretaker in 1940 when Annie passed and it then came into my possession in 1995 when we lost Grandmother.

Soup Tureen

The china set only comes out once a year, either on Thanksgiving or Christmas when it’s our turn to host the family. However, I have three other items that complement the formal dinner service.

I also inherited a candelabra, an ornate salt and pepper shaker set and a simple teapot and creamer, all from Grandmother.

I actually have one photo from the 1960s of Grandmother’s dining room and, if you look at the left side in the back, you can see the teapot in its place of honor. It almost looks like part of the wallpaper, but it is on the buffet table against the back wall, to the left of the mirror, between the third candle in the left candelabra and the flower centerpiece.:

Grandmother’s Table, c1960s

For the last few years, I’ve gotten very lazy about holiday meals and haven’t even taken out the china. It seems so much easier to use everyday dinnerware.

However, the pattern is beautiful and Grandmother’s salt-and-pepper, candelabra and teapot deserve to be admired at least once every year.

This year, we are hosting Christmas dinner and I’m in the mood for a bit of nostalgia, as I remember Grandmother proudly using all of these items.

Grandmother’s Christmas Mantle

In spite of the extra work using these heirlooms causes – especially handling the china set, which is now over 120 years old – I think I’ll be serving Christmas dinner 2018  with these items. Grandmother would be pleased knowing the family is continuing to enjoy her treasures.


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