My favorite heirloom brothers, Dan and Mike Hiestand, have thrown down the glove again this holiday season in their annual campaign against Too Much Stuff. If you follow The Heirloom Registry or the Home History Book, you may have met Dan and Mike. Together they founded Houstory, a small business dedicated to preserving family keepsakes and the home histories.
I first met Dan at the SCGS Jamboree in Burbank a few years ago. I loved the Home History Book, a beautiful hand-crafted journal designed to help record the history of your house. And I really liked the The Heirloom Registry, a legacy website created to hold the history of family heirlooms and reconnect stories and artifacts through generations. I first wrote about The Heirloom Registry in Before the Pirate Toy Chest Became an Heirloom after we discovered my husband's childhood treasure in the family home.
For the past few years, the Houstory Bros. have waged a quiet but effective campaign to bring sanity to holiday over-gifting. They call it the "#No More Stuff" campaign and you can read about it at the Houstory Blog. So, while The Family Curator is all about preserving and archiving the "stuff" that you inherit and treasure, the Houstory Brothers are encouraging us not to acquire a lot of additional "stuff" that we don't really need or want. I like the idea. I have more than enough wonderful keepsakes accumulated from my life, and my parents and grandparents. It's hard enough to care for what's under my roof right now, I certainly don't need more. The Houstory campaign reminds me of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts mantra:
Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.
At holiday time, especially, it's a worthwhile thought to bear in mind.
I like the gift Dan and Mike's parents gave to their children last year -- they recorded the stories of their favorite family heirlooms to preserve online at The Heirloom Registry where their children, grandchildren, and extended family could read the history of those keepsakes.
Pass It On
Both my mother and my mother-in-law were thoughtful family historians. They didn't have The Heirloom Registry, but each woman wrote notes about the provenance of special items and tucked them inside the keepsake. My mom made notes of wedding gifts or where she bought something. My mother-in-law liked to leave the price tag and a note about the "priceless" treasure she found at a bargain. I tend to sketch a chain of ownership, starting as far back as possible to record the owner, their birth and death dates, residence, and anything I know about the manufacture and item.
My goal for next year is to gift each family with a keepsake notebook with stories and photos of a few special heirlooms, and to start passing along some of those treasures to the next generation. I think it will feel good to see those things in a new home, and be a good answer to the Houstory campaign. Maybe we can call it "Pass It On."
I created a form to help me remember the details I wanted to record about my family keepsakes, including description, previous owners, and former locations. Here is a link to download a free copy of my form to use for your own heirloom book or to help you prepare stories to upload to The Heirloom Registry: