Without The Stories, It’s All Just “Stuff”

I have been meaning to sit down and write something for a while now. I didn’t. But that can be seen from the date of my last post.

Several days ago I fully intended to write when I opened my email from FamilyHistoryDaily.com and read that there are “Thousands of 1890 Census Records,” and then my New England Historic Genealogical Society email and read about their sale of used and remaindered books. So now I am in the middle of looking through the 23 pages of offerings. Of course, I thought wow this would be a great blog post, to talk about exciting new finds. I stopped on page 6.   I looked through all of it. Then I had other things that needed to get done.

The next time I sat down to write, I came back to idea that has been percolating in the back of my mind. Months ago I was talking to a friend about some furniture that he had inherited. He was telling me that his kids weren’t particularly interested in the old stuff, the things that were treasures to him. I encouraged him to write down the stories about the stuff, who gave it to him, why the people and things mattered to him. Without the stories, it’s all just stuff.

So, the “stories behind the stuff” has been in the back of my mind. I thought that I would make a catalog of our “stuff” that had a story behind it. Most of the things don’t have any great monetary value, but they have emotional value. They help keep us connected to people we care/cared about and events we treasured.

Over the years when we made trips I would usually buy a Christmas ornament as memento of the trip. Each year when we decorate the tree we remember those trips and smile. I decided to catalog the trip ornaments and keep them in separate storage. All the Christmas stuff is put away, so it will have to wait.  The baseball glove and ball ornament that we bought years ago when we went to Cooperstown represents great times with family.   The snow white and seven dwarfs that we pack carefully into their own box is the memento from one of the wonderful trips we took to Disney when our daughter was young. That’s the idea anyway. I intend to take pictures of the ornaments and put them in a binder with the story behind each.

I love genealogy only partly because I love research. I really love genealogy when I can discover someone’s story. It has carried over into how I see things now too.   Since I can’t do the Christmas “stuff” yet, yesterday I started to look around the house at things that came from someone else and to write the story behind it.

My Granny’s pot is just an old-fashioned aluminum pot without the stories. I inherited Granny’s pot because I loved making her meatloaf and because of the story my mother used to tell when she made the meatloaf recipe given to her by her mother-in-law, my Granny.   She was Granny to me but Nana to some of my cousins and those of us who still make it have quite different versions of the meatloaf. My mother told us the story, but I don’t know who exactly told her. According to my mom, Granny, although born in 1899, was a very forward thinker and used these “waterless cooker” pots. She also could feed many people with this meatloaf, even if she had not been expecting them when she shopped. The filler was saltine crackers. The more people she had, the more crackers she used. The spirit of this was that there was always room for someone at their table. It’s a beautiful sentiment and I do think that forward thinker and generous spirit are how I remember my grandmother. My uncle was the last of my father’s siblings living. When he was clearing things out, he said he wanted me to have the pot.   Whenever I see the pot, it will always remind me of Granny, the meatloaf, Uncle Bob and family.



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