Treasures Passed Down through Generations may be the Best Wedding Gifts of All
August, 2006 - Issue #22
Compiled by Patti Rasmussen

An heirloom in general is any old item or antique passed down from one generation to another.

We've all seen the television show where people bring in items and have an expert give the owner a value for the property. We've also heard about the lucky guy who bought a simple painting at a garage sale only to find an original Monet behind the new paint. Some of these items may be considered heirlooms if the parties hang on to them and pass them down to family members. But it's almost impossible to place a value on an heirloom as its significance is usually in the heart of the owner. We all have some sort of heirloom in our family. We found some local individuals willing to share theirs with us.

Lauren Rasmussen, 24
Heirloom: diamond ring

My boyfriend BJ and I were on our last day of vacation in Hawaii. We wanted to take photographs of our view from the room and BJ wouldn't let me use the camera. Turns out he was planning on proposing and wanted to take a photograph of my reaction. When he got down on one knee, I was totally surprised. I can usually read him like a book. It took me about one second to say "yes."

BJ's dad was a pilot in the Navy. When BJ was about 3 years old, his dad, Kurt, was killed in a mid-air collision along with 11 other people. BJ's mom, Pam, had two young boys at the time and she moved back to her family in Humboldt. She saved the ring her husband gave to her when he proposed. He bought it for her just before he was drafted. It's small, really simple - a gold band with a small diamond. I'm not a big jewelry kind of gal, but this ring means so much more to me than any other ring I could spend a ton of money on. The fact that Pam gave it to BJ knowing he was giving it to me is very special. It makes me feel accepted.

I don't know if I'll ever get another ring. This one is so important. But either way, it's staying in the family.

Peggy Richan, 36
Heirloom: bookcase and family bible

It seemed as though my parents were married forever. They certainly had plenty of children. I'm the youngest of a large family. I have five brothers and three sisters. By the time I reached my teens, most of my older siblings had moved out and started families of their own. We had this old bookcase in our house for as long as I can remember. It was always filled with encyclopedias. When one of my older sisters moved into her own apartment, she asked is she could have the bookcase. My mom never liked it, saying it was old and she was happy to get rid of it.

My sister kept the bookcase for years. She refinished it and I remember seeing it in her house filled with books, photographs and flowers for many years. When I got married, she gave it to me. It sits in my house along with one of the few things I got from my dad - a bible that was given to my parents when they were married in 1945. I know one of my brothers has been eyeing the bookcase, but these two things will definitely be passed down to my children.

Beverly Bercaw, 31
Heirloom: linen tablecloth and napkins from Wales

My mother gave me the tablecloth when I was 17 years old. I had just moved out. It was given to her from her mother when she got married. My grandmother got from her mother when she got married. It was a heartfelt gift from my mom and it brought a tear to my eye because it had so much family history. It dates back to about the 1800s. I keep it tucked away because it's pure white with a floral pattern that is satin. Maybe when my kids get older I might take it out and use it with the silver I got at the same time. It looks like somebody spilled something on it and I'm afraid to wash it because it's so delicate.

My daughter Nicole will get this when she gets married. She's already talking about weddings.

Cathy Martin, 50
Heirloom: set of china from grandmother

I received a set of china - plates, coffee pot, creamer, the whole works. It skipped a generation. My grandmother gave it to me for a wedding gift. They are white with purple African daisies. I use them for special occasions. Every time I take them out, it reminds me of grandmother. We never got to use the china when we were kids, only the grown-ups. Of all the gifts that you get when you get married, these are the ones that mean the most. I couldn't tell you what my other relatives gave me that day, but I always remember what my grandmother gave me.

I plan on giving them to Tara, my daughter, when she gets married. She said they are totally un-cool, but she wants them anyway.
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