Parents have an important job as a provider for their children. But all too often, providing is thought of in terms of financial obligation; the cost of and preparing your child for a college education, for example. The cost of raising a well-rounded child, from athletic teams to music lessons to art classes. A mortgage so you can put a roof over your family’s head. After all, for a middle-income family to raise a child born in 2015 through the age of 17, it costs around $233,610, according to a recent report.
These things are, of course, crucial to providing for a child. But there are also intangibles – or “less tangibles” – that are equally important. Establishing a connection to family roots, history, and meaningful events can lay a strong and long-lasting foundation for a child. It can create a sense of belonging and meaning and an often confusing (and sometimes senseless) world. A major uptick in DNA and ancestry tests point to a surging interest in family history.
If you’ve ever been passed down a family heirloom from a parent or grandparent, you know what I’m talking about. An heirloom provides a connection with past generations of family – an item they had which is now part of you and your life. It gives you something to remember the person who gave it to you, even long after that person is gone. As a parent, it’s something you will remember forever. As a child, it’s even more important and meaningful.
If you don’t have an heirloom in mind, fear not. Actually, creating one with your child can be quite a special experience in and of itself. This allows you to select something that is more specific to your kids; an item you believe they will cherish when they get older. It also gives you the opportunity to involve your kids in the process, an added component which makes it even more memorable.
A Custom Cookbook or Photo Album
(Image Courtesy of Tips From Town)
Whether it’s grandma’s famous pie or the family’s secret chili recipe, a cookbook provides you with the opportunity to share the delicious recipes that have been part of your family’s traditions for decades. Various companies, including Blurb, Shutterfly, and Cookbook Create, have made it incredibly easy to create one-of-a-kind, fully-customizable cookbooks that are both extremely elegant and durable. Include pictures of the original hand-written recipes or the completed dish being served at a family event to incorporate a unique touch and make that memorable connection. By doing so, the cookbook will tell a story that’s much more meaningful than the recipes themselves.
Jewelry with a Story
For mothers and daughters everywhere, there is arguably no family heirloom more classic and cherished than jewelry. As a child, there’s something special about rummaging through your mother’s jewelry box; it’s as fun as it is symbolic. Whether it’s a big life event – like an 18th birthday, wedding, or graduation – or just something you want to pass down to your daughter, consider building a piece of jewelry over time rather than simply handing off your valuables.
Example: Build your own necklace or bracelet with your daughter over time. For each major life event, pick out a single loose pearl together from your local jeweler or even while traveling. After years and years of this tradition, get a jeweler to thread it for you. In the end, you’re left with a beautiful necklace that’s more than simply a necklace. It’s rich in fond memories, history, and has a strong family connection. It’s something your child will never forget, and it’s quite possibly a tradition they’ll start with their own children someday.
A Musical Instrument
(Image Courtesy of France Musique)
Music is truly a gift. Playing music on 50-year-old family instrument is something else altogether. Growing up hearing a parent play a musical instrument is very influential for many children. As they grow older, many of them also want to take up music, and whether you’re a professional musician or someone who simply enjoys playing as a hobby, an instrument is a phenomenal heirloom. Not only are you passing down an item that is very sentimental, but also your knowledge of a subject that’s special to you and you alone. Add a personalized touch by adorning the instrument with an engraving that features both of your initials. Every passing generation can have their initials added if the tradition is kept alive.
A Tradition that Hopefully Never Dies
The moment you actually pass down a family heirloom may be years away, but some planning now can help create something truly unique and special for your child down the road. And remember: The most important thing about a family heirloom isn’t the item itself but the meaning, history, and tradition it possesses for both the giver and the recipient. Each heirloom has a story that comes with it, and this is what gives heirlooms their value.