My friend Melissa Mannon of the Archives Info blog recently wrote this on her Facebook wall, "Hanging photos of my family makes home seem even more like home."
That sentence sparked a cord in me.
When I moved away from home as an independent adult I lived first in a series of apartments. I kept my possessions and decorating to a minimum due to transitory nature of my life. Then I got married and just before having our first child we moved into our first house. It was decorated in what my mother always liked to call "early marital poverty."
It wasn't until about six years later that we moved again and settled into our second home. I'm not sure if it was because we had moved to the burbs or if it was just the right time in her life, but it wasn't until then that my mother decided to share some family heirlooms. My brothers and I were allowed to make requests and as long as they didn't overlap we got what we wanted.
I asked my mother for two items, both of which surprised my adult-self very much. I asked my mom for items that I didn't really like as a kid. The first was as painting of my 3rd great grandmother, Eliza Shaw Gurney, as a young child. The second was a statue presented by the Providence, Rhode Island YMCA to my great grandfather, Seeber Edwards, as thanks for his fundraising efforts to build the YMCA building in that city. Both of these items I found curious or even strange as a child. I found it ironic that I wanted and was asking for these things as an adult.
The transformation in my life happened almost immediately. I have always loved my home but suddenly having items in my current house that I had grown up with was calming and reassuring. These heirlooms had been an ever-present part of my daily life during my childhood. Now they found a new home in my house and for the first time my home really felt like my home. I never realized the impact that having items from my family and from my childhood would have on how I felt about my environment. The connection with my family and with my past was strong and powerful. It gave me a tremendous sense of comfort.
So when Melissa said "Hanging photos of my family makes home seem even more like home," I know exactly what she means.