When most folks think of the words “Hand-Me-Downs” they think of second hand clothing & garments, usually passed down to younger sibling from an older one. The vast majority of Appalachian youth from my childhood grew up wearing hand me downs. Being the oldest sibling did not make me immune to wearing hand-me-downs. Apparently, my seniority is why cousins and thrift stores existed!
However, as I have aged, I look at the definition of hand-me-downs in a vastly different light, especially within a family. Please allow me to explain.
When one looks at things passed down through generations of any family, there are three types of things that are passed along: Hand-Me-Down, Family Heirlooms and an Inheritance.
While an inheritance or family heirlooms center around monetary value for the most part, hand-me-downs are far different even though they can also have significant monetary value.
I view what I consider hand-me-downs as any handed down item or skill which holds an intrinsic value far greater to the heart and mind than any form of currency.
It can be anything: vegetable seeds, great grandmother’s gladiola bulbs, knowing how to build a fire and survival skills, a pocket knife, Papaw’s snake pistol, a watch, Books & magazines from which stories have been told. The possibilities are absolutely endless. It all depends on an individuals personal experience.
The largest factor is that the hand-me-down is born out of love and simply for loves sake.
My friend Cameron Wathen and I were talking about this subject last night and he told me about his most valued hand-me-down: A shoe shine kit.
Cameron says that when he was a boy, he wanted to know how to properly shine and dress his shoes. His now deceased grandfather, Arthur Snelson, promptly bought Cameron a shoe shine kit, complete with all the necessary tools including all the brushes and three polish colors: Black, Brown and Tan. Mr. Snelson showed Cameron how to properly use the kit.
Cameron told me that he only used that kit approximately three times before his grandfather passed away. Cameron never used that particular kit again. He simply packed it away. He told me that the polish in the cans were now nothing but dust. However, his grandfather had passed along an important skill: The lost art of a man looking his best. As the old saying goes, you can tell a lot about a man by his shoes.
I know one family that grows a particular strain of okra. The seeds have been passed down through the generations since the family first arrived in the Shelton Laurel Valley of Madison County, North Carolina over two hundred years ago!
For this writer, there are a number of things but the one that came to mind first is a quilt made by my maternal grandmother, Edna Shetley, who I simply called “Mamaw”.
The quilt design is the classic “Dutch Girl” pattern. There is no staggering monetary worth to the quilt but Mamaw made it specifically for me; born out of love, creating a memory and sentimental value which a dollar or gold nugget will never replace.
Those are just a few examples of “Hand-Me-Downs” by my definition.
What I would like to ask of you is this: What are some of your hand-me-downs? I would love to hear about them and your experiences!
Y’all have a great week!