Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the value we put on our possessions. What brought this to mind? A few projects that I’ve been working on. In some cases, like the inventorying and pricing of my baseball card collection, I wanted to know the monetary worth. In most other cases, monetary worth was not as important as sentimental, family-historical, or practical value.
As I’ve mentioned in earlier postings, I’ve been going through old papers and possessions from my parents and old papers and possessions of mine. My father’s old army papers and newspaper clippings. Family-historical. My mother’s Bible and a couple of books my parents received when they were preparing to get married in the Catholic Church. Practical mostly, tinged with sentimentality. My mother was Lutheran; I’m Catholic. Her Bible is a good comparative reference. The book about saints, definitely a good reference. I like to read inspiring stories. The other book, mainly a magazine really, is interesting because it’s a magazine from close to 45 years ago. I find it fascinating to see what was important to people back then. These things will be moved out of the box and put on my bookshelf.
My possessions. Well, I’m still going through them. Unfortunately, one sentimental piece I haven’t been able to find. A charm that a friend of mine gave to me when I was confirmed (and had my First Holy Communion) at Easter Vigil in 1996. Of all the invaluable things I could’ve lost, why did I have to lose something valuable to me? But maybe it’s still here somewhere. I still have hope, though diminishing. After all, since then I’ve changed residences 4 times. As a last resort, I could always pray to St. Anthony. He hasn’t failed yet.
As a part of this cleaning-out, I decided to clean out my jewelry box. Now, cleaning-out isn’t really the word for it considering most of my jewelry has been given to me by various people. In a few cases the jewelry was made by a beloved (and multi-talented) aunt of mine, now deceased. Those items that she made carry the most value of any possession that I have.
So, this cleaning-out of my jewelry box was mainly taking an inventory of what I have and thinking about all those who gave these things to me. In this process I came across two rings that I forgot I had. These actually I inherited when my father died. As a kid, they were in my father’s dresser. Occassionally I would look at them and admire them. I don’t think I ever asked where they came from. I think I always assumed that they were my mother’s.
As I grew up, I had no time for looking at rings. Then, when I was boxing up my father’s stuff after he died, I was again introduced to these rings. I put them in my jewelry box and there they sat until November of this year. Still in my practical mindset, I decided that it was time to find out about these rings. Where did they come from? What are they worth? And, more practically, I wanted them sized so that I could wear them. After all, why should they just sit in a box for the rest of my life?
Where did they come from? This was a mystery. They were obviously old rings. Well worn (well-loved, as I like to say). One was small enough in size that it would’ve in all likelihood fit my mother’s finger. The other, however, was way too big to fit. Maybe my grandmother’s? I asked my aunt (my father’s sister). She didn’t know where they came from. Neither were from her side. I asked my mother’s sister. But, it still remained a mystery, though it was not definitive that they didn’t come from my mother’s side of the family. So, I concluded (with at least some certainty) that the larger one must’ve been my grandmother’s.
I took the rings to a jeweler. This was not going to be a simple job. The jeweler confirmed the age of the rings, putting them in my grandmother’s generation. But, one could not be sized, in their opinion, because it was too worn; the other needed extensive work. Unfortunately, the jeweler that I took it to could not do the work, though he did tell me of a place about 50 miles away that could. Now I had to figure out what to do. The one ring that I knew with 99% certainty was my mother’s (sentimental), could not be sized so that I could wear it. The other which I had no history on (sentimental only if it truly was my grandmother’s) I would have to spend a lot of money on so that I could get some wear out of it. And, there was a possibility that what I’d be spending would be more than the ring is worth monetarily. So, I had to ask myself, what value do I place on these? I decided that even if the ring was not my grandmother’s, even if the ring itself wasn’t worth much monetarily, that it would be worth the expensive work if I could get years of wear from the ring (practical).
But, I didn’t want to drive 50 miles to get the work done. Not if I didn’t have to. Basically, I wanted to find a jeweler that had experience dealing with estate jewelry repairs. I enlisted help in my endeavor. Finally, I decided on a local jeweler. It took some time, but both rings are now back in my possession and both, yes both, are sized to fit my ring finger. And, as I had suspected, the monetary worth of the ring was considerably less than what I spent on it. But, I still think that getting the work done was worth the effort.
And, not only from a practical standpoint. Recently I learned the story behind these rings. My father’s sister talked to her son who was very close to my father.
Both of these rings my father bought for my mother. My father was a very generous soul. He liked to make my mother happy and give her nice things. He always bought her nice clothes, and made sure she got her hair done nicely (pampering!). My father was not a rich man, by any means. But he knew women liked pretty jewelry. He couldn’t afford brand new jewelry, so he had to buy used. One ring fit my mother. The other didn’t and he never got around to actually getting that one fixed and sized. So, after knowing the true story on these rings, their sentimentality value just shot up. These rings are symbols of my father’s love for my mother. A symbol of his kind and generous heart.
When we acquire possessions, however we acquire possessions, some have practical value, some have monetary value, and others sentimental value. Sometimes a possession has more than one value. Sometimes possessions we thought were valuable, don’t really have true value. In my quest to lead a simpler life in the New Year, I’m praying God will guide me as I discern which possessions have true worth and which no longer have any value in my life.
Oh, and the picture above? Painted with love by my beloved, multi-talented aunt many years ago.
May all my readers have a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy, prosperous New Year!
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