I was chatting with my brother John the other day, and the topic turned to "junk." Junk, as in everyone's basement and attic seems to be full of it, and no one knows what to do with it. The "junk" discussion then turned into a bitch session between siblings regarding our dad's habit of holding onto family heirlooms and objects with sentimental value without any regard for their preservation.
My mom died when I was in high school, and after my dad remarried, he boxed up the reminders of his first life and stashed them into the basement. Over the years, my brothers and I have asked for certain items, only to be told, "You can have them after I'm dead," or "I'm not ready to let you have that just yet." Unfortunately, stashing the items in the basement was not a great idea, and after years of exposure to the moisture and temperature extremes, most of the items are ruined (including my mother's wedding dress).
Unfortunately, my son and daughter-in-law don't seem to be interested in family heirlooms, and I'm struggling with the dilemma of what to do with items I don't want to see leave the family. Do I hang onto them in the hopes that my grandson will some day be interested? Do I pass them along to my cousins or nieces/nephews? My brother has already talked to his step-daughter about what items she might be interested in, what keepsakes she wants from her childhood home.
I would be interested to hear from fellow genealogists regarding your plans to preserve family heirlooms.