Southern Heirlooms We’re Sentimental About
Admit it—you’d rather part with your season tickets (well, at least the away games) than even one of Nana’s quilts.
Are you one of those Southerners who keeps your grandmother’s hand mirror on your dresser, her favorite brooch pinned to your winter coat? Would you sooner give up your SUV and walk to Publix than part with the sunhat Mama wore on every vacation?
No question about it, we’re a sentimental lot. Southerners can amicably divvy up Papaw’s land when he passes, but there could be a fight over his pipe, his pocket knife, or his favorite rocking chair. And the sentimentality goes in both generational directions: Mama knows Charlotte-Anne will never wear her first big-girl Easter dress again, now that she’s a Chi Omega at Alabama, and yet it remains—wrapped in tissue paper and stored in a cedar chest.
We’d sooner skip a playoff than miss Decoration Day or any other occasions honoring beloved family members who have gone on.
When we polled our Facebook Brain Trust for specifics on what they’re sentimental about, most of their answers fell into a handful of categories. See what you think—and tell us what we left out.
“I love anything sterling silver that has been handed down through the years,” wrote Vivian Ann from Dothan, Alabama. Other readers agreed. From china and silver to crystal and table linens, we love inherited tableware—the older, the better.
“Christmas and holiday ‘anythings’ are special because they keep traditions alive through the generations,” said West Virginia native Carolanne. “It doesn’t matter if they’re tattered—tatters mean love.”
So smitten are we with all things Christmas that we even hold onto those aluminum Christmas trees from the seventies. Remember the silver ones with the fringy branches and a slowly turning light wheel casting shades of red, blue, green, and yellow on our metallic Tannenbaum? (Or would that be Tannenbaums???)
All Things Bridal
From mom’s wedding dress and engagement ring to Nana’s veil, we can’t get enough of family wedding heirlooms. “We even keep family wedding invitations, stored for reference and safekeeping,” wrote Jennifer in San Antonio.
We never part with baby’s first shoes and christening gowns—or any other “firsts,” like those precious outfits for little ones’ first Easter, first Rosh Hashanah, first birthday . . .
Paper & Pictures
“Anything in your parents’ handwriting is a treasure once they’re no longer with you,” writes Meridith in Mississippi. “I have letters my dad wrote home during World War II.” (Side note: We’re also sentimental about war memorabilia, particularly medals.)
Like letters, handwritten recipes from our mothers, grandmothers, and other loved ones are priceless. We’ll never part with Grandmama’s recipes for pie, scratch buttermilk biscuits, or “famous” hot mustard, not to mention her lemon cheese cake (which wasn’t actually a cheesecake, which is why we love it).
Equally treasured are family pictures—and not just photographs. “I still have my Great-Aunt Rosebud’s painting, done by a famous artist in Mexico,” says Ann in Alabama. “He hid her name within the painting.”
We’ll cling to Mama’s cookbook and cast iron, along with Granny’s Bundt pan, gumbo pot, and vintage Tupperware.
Just try getting a Southern girl to part with quilts, embroidery, or crocheted pieces handstitched by loved ones—if you’re itchin’ for a fight, that is.
From our grandmother’s favorite ring to Mama’s wedding band to Granddaddy’s cuff links, we can’t part with jewelry that reminds us of those we love, regardless of whether it has any monetary value.
“I have a pair of costume earrings that were my mom’s,” writes Nancy in Birmingham. “I was inconsolable when I lost one of them. I found it DAYS later wedged between the rubber and metal portion of my car door. It had stayed there through miles of driving, a fierce rainstorm, and endless door slamming. I think Mama held it there until I finally spied it. Who knows? Maybe she put it there, too, since I have no idea how it wound up in that peculiar spot.”
“I’m sentimental about special memories, like the carousel, Ferris wheel, and Mad Mouse roller coaster rides at KiddieLand in Birmingham,” says Patti in Alabama. “Many, many days were spent there!”
And then, there’s this . . .
Says music fan Mike in Alabama: “What am I sentimental about? Duane Allman’s guitar licks.”
WATCH: Our Southern Hearts Love This Family's 67-Year-Old Dress Tradition
They've managed to cross generations—not to mention seven states—with something that makes the girls in the family feel special on an important day.