Things of Value


This past weekend my family was up in northern Michigan at the family lake house, a place we have been going to for years. One of the great things about the lake house is this collection of old appliances from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s: toasters, blenders, mixers, radios and more. Inevitability when ever we are up, there is a conversation which always laments how things are not manufactured with quality anymore and everything seems so disposable.

The lake house is a five bedroom cottage owned by my wife’s grandmother. I should say ‘was owned’ as grandma past away over winter and the estate has been passed on to grandma’s five children. Part of our ‘responsibility in the process of the estate changing hands is to clean and organize the storage barn, separating thing to be donated from things that are trash.

As we started shifting through this huge pole barn of furniture, clothes, and assorted things collected over grandma’s ninety years of life, I began to realize the things she valued the most would have no worth to others: old letterhead, bridge name tags, maps of Sanibel Island; and the things that others would value–furniture, clothes, plates–in the end had no value to her.

So maybe it is ok that “we don’t make things like we used to.” Maybe the things that technology allow us to pass on…our digital memories … make up for the fact that toasters are bland and vanilla and will only last five years or so.