What “things” will my children remember me by? Hope these are not my phone chargers
As far back as I can remember, some precious items were on display in every Irish home. But times and fashions have changed, and it’s over with the old and the minimal.
I remember my mother very well collecting Belleek pottery. With their Aran motif and their small green clover motifs hung on the walls or mounted on dressers. Whenever I saw them on display in a house or when we were allowed to enter the “right room”, I always asked myself the same question. “Why don’t we use them? “
When I was seven, I broke my mother’s Belleek vase, something that took me 20 years to confess. I still remember putting it back together thinking “but we never put anything in it”. While cleaning the garage recently, I found an old license plate holder. Previously it contained a large woven porcelain basket, and now I use this holder to hold my iPad.
My father received a large Waterford crystal vase when he retired. Waterford Crystal, as well as a Cross pen, the absolute pinnacle of retirement gifts. Most people my age will remember a crystal shape in their home, and most of our parents put them in cupboards almost like football trophies. My mother’s absolute pride and joy were six Waterford crystal wine glasses. The irony was that my parents never drank wine. If someone came to the house, they usually drank a whiskey or a brandy.
We also had various Hummel figurines scattered around the house. From a young Sheppard tending his sheep to young girls feeding ducks. They looked like toys to me, and I never could understand why I couldn’t play with them. We had a particular figurine of a boy singing while playing the accordion. I used him as a substitute goalie at Subbuteo. Apparently, some Hummel ornaments can be worth a small fortune today. I probably shouldn’t have used them as a right-back and center-back.
One thing has not changed. Television was in the spotlight in our house. However, these are all flat screens today; you don’t need to put an extension cord to install them in your living room.
What I’m still laughing at today is the final separation of our tools by the fireside. We had a drab green plastic bucket and shovel that lived in the garage to haul the coal and sod around the house. Yet beside the fireplace stood a shiny polished copper bucket filled with equally shiny brushes, claws, and hand shovels. Again, they were never used and their purpose was for display purposes only. Many Irish homes had them, and God forbids any unsuspecting family member to mistake them for usable tools.
We had an old Hitachi television. It was decorated with brown veneer like a real piece of furniture. He was also decorated with more than one scar from the constant beatings he received. It was sent almost every year for repair. There were buttons you had to press to change channels. Personally, I think the nation’s hamstring health was at its highest in the 1970s and 1980s of any squatting kid who was constantly told to “get up and change the chains.” The pre-distant world now seems so redundant. However, I wish TVs would still put easy-to-find buttons on the front panels. We have lost more remotes than I can remember. Most are found months later at the bottom of a toy box or buried in the back garden. I recently found an Apple remote after a year-long hiatus in the wild. He was buried between the panels of a sofa with tooth marks on it. Some had written “mine” on it with a blue pencil. It was the perfect start to an episode of CSI.
What is missing more recently, however, is the mind-boggling array of videotapes and DVDs that would stand proudly in the hundreds protecting the TV like Roman centurions. My kids don’t know what a DVD is. It’s nice to be nostalgic for the nostalgia and to remember VCRs and Betamax. It is not because I am an elder; it’s more about the rate of technological advancement. Still, you wouldn’t write on the wall every movie and series you’ve watched on Netflix in the past few years to show them to visitors.
The change that has happened is that we no longer display items in our homes and there is no longer a need to show visitors your collectibles. In fact, home interiors are more minimalist and stylish. Today, putting a Hummel figurine in a display case in your kitchen would be considered an ironic statement, not a design choice. The clutter is dead; long live the open plan (until the kids come in and ruin your minimalist ideas with a lot of molded plastic crap). When I look at Grand Designs or Home of The Year, I always think to myself, “How do they keep the place so clean?”
I like clean spaces. I am not a fan of statues, vases, figurines or pottery. But when I think of the deceased people I loved, I think of their personalities, their laughter and their manners, but I also think of their business. I think about how they took care of them, collected them and treasured them. They are like little pieces of them still there. That’s why we love things that have been left to us with no monetary value but are a physical reminder of it. The question is, by what “things” will my children remember me? I just hope this is not my collection of phone chargers.