While most parents hope to pass on their antique furniture, collectibles and family heirlooms to their adult kids when they pass away, it can come as a shock to discover their treasures may not hold the same value to others as they do to them.
For one woman, her decision not to hold on to family heirlooms did not go down well with her husband’s mother.
Writing to The Washington Post‘s advice columnist Carolyn Hax, the woman revealed her mother-in-law is now upset because no one’s jumping at the chance to own her great-aunt’s china set.
“My mother-in-law has spent much of her life accumulating collectibles, heirlooms and furniture with the rationale that she will give them to her children and grandchildren someday,” she wrote.
“She’s decided that ‘someday’ is now and is getting upset that her family isn’t jumping at the chance to own figurines or her great-aunt’s china set, much less my husband’s bedroom set from the 1970s.”
The woman said it’s now causing her mother-in-law genuine angst, adding that she becomes even more upset when she finds out her family members have donated things she’d given them in the past.
“She’s gotten very upset with me when I donate outgrown or unused items she’s given us,” the woman added.
The woman said her house has small closets and no storage space, adding her husband has a tenuous relationship with his parents.
“I know this is an increasing problem for many of us, the ‘sandwich generation’. Is there any hope for middle ground?” She asked.
Carolyn told the woman to be mindful of her mother-in-law’s feelings, adding she probably just wants to hold a special place in their home and be remembered.
“Don’t lose sight of what this is about. Her reaction says it well: It’s about feelings, not stuff. As it has always been,” she explained. “Stuff acquisition showed everyone who you were or wanted to be, and handing things down said you lived on in people’s hearts and homes in some small way. Pride and a sense of connection – they won’t be denied, even when the figurines have to be.”
She also advised the woman to make sure when she says no to be kind and complimentary, writing: “Ask for stories behind things. On occasion, find some small and/or useful things to accept – even if it means replacing something you already own just like it.”