Objects Tell a Story

Ever since I read Jane Urquhart’s “A Number of Things: stories of Canada told through fifty objects”, written for Canada 150, I have wanted to write my own book about family and personal objects.

Last year I bought my parents’ house. It’s belonged to my family for over 50 years, so you can well imagine that it has accumulated some stuff. A lot of this stuff has meaning, and in sifting through it, I have had to consider very carefully what to get rid of and what to keep. So I have decided that now is the time to start writing that book about personal and family objects. 

I treasure the time that I spent with my father going through his photo albums from Africa, writing down the stories he told me as we looked at every picture. I wish I could have done the same with my mother and her childhood albums. So that’s one reason I want to write a book about our objects. I want to write it before every one forgets the meaning behind the objects.

Objects in people’s houses are interesting things. They may have meaning for only one person, or different meanings for all family members. They may be very mundane or incredibly valuable. Some you may keep out of guilt and others bring up warm memories. Whatever the meaning, it is fascinating to go through and consider all of them.

I’ll start with some family objects in this post.

Here’s a selection of mine:

  1. The “push present”

I was surprised and delighted when my aunt gave me this teacup. It turns out that it is the push present my grandfather gave my grandmother upon my mother’s birth. I was amazed that my aunt had kept this for so long, but also touched that she thought to give it to me. She gifted it to me when she was in Canada, attending my dad’s funeral two years ago. I had never ever heard of push presents until recently, so I was surprised that my grandmother had received one. I thought it was a relatively new invention, but I guess it’s not. It made me wonder if my mom got any push presents after she birthed her children. Come to think of it…where’s my push present?! 

2. The volcanic rock

This volcanic rock comes from the Mwatesi River that ran through the farm my dad lived on when he was a child in Africa. My uncle gave it to my father, and I kept it. It is on my “bucket list” to travel to the area in Africa where my dad was born and raised. I keep it as a reminder of that dream.

3. The sugar bowl

I have a hard time getting rid of this sugar bowl, despite its battered appearance. It just reminds me so much of my childhood. When I look at it, I see my father’s hand reaching into it with the special flower embossed silver spoon we only used for the sugar bowl and sprinkling sugar on his morning grapefruit. I have temporarily repurposed it for my daughter’s hair bands, since they end up everywhere anyway. I noticed that the bowl comes from Bavaria. In fact, I noticed that a lot of our older family objects come from Bavaria. They must be gifts from my dad’s brother, who stayed in Germany while my dad and his other brother immigrated to Canada.

This is just a small selection, but at least I got my book started.

In another post I’ll talk about some personal objects.

What about you? What objects have you kept that tell about your family history?

Shoe’s Sunday Stories

@Copyright 2019 Linda Schueler


1 thought on “Objects Tell a Story

  1. Pingback: Objects Tell a Story, Part 2 or Opening up my Cabinet of Curiosities | Shoe's Stories

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