Marblehead Patch columnist Brenda Kelley Kim talks about treasures, tea pots and tradition.
“Things only have the value that we give them.” - Moliere
I am hardly a millionaire, not even close but I have a lot of things that mean the world to me. We always say that possessions don’t really matter. People matter. Your children, your family and friends matter most. And this is true, of course. But I believe that sometimes an object can be equally precious to us as well. And it’s not always the expensive things.
I love jewelry. For me, it’s an art form. There is one magazine that I subscribe to mostly because of the jewelry ads. I am fortunate to have some nice pieces that yes, are valuable, but are also part of a family tradition. My mother believed that heirloom jewelry should be passed down to the daughters. She felt that if you give the son a diamond ring or a sapphire bracelet he is likely to give it to some “tramp” who will promptly dump him and run off to the nearest pawn shop. She learned this the hard way, she had three brothers and no family jewelry.
So I have my mother’s engagement ring, but what makes it valuable (to me) is the story behind it. How my father wasn’t able to buy her one until they had been married for a few years. That he picked a fight the night he gave it to her, and when she went to storm out of the room after calling him something best not repeated here, he pulled it out of his pocket and said “well, I suppose I should apologize, will this do?” The ring is nice; the story is better.
Things have the value we give them? Definitely. My mother’s ring is valuable, if the insurance rider is any indication. But price is not the same as value. I have some pretty cheap items that are just as important to me. I found a necklace with a little “B” on it in a box of things I’d forgotten about since packing them up in college. It probably cost less than ten dollars, but it is priceless because it brings that time back to me.
And it’s not just about jewelry. The same is true for the baseball cap with name of my father’s company on it. When I wear my “F. L. Kelley Inc” hat I am sixteen again, riding in a backhoe around the equipment yard. There were hundreds of these caps at one point, but now there is just mine. It is irreplaceable.
Years ago, I was at a friend’s house having a cup of tea. Catherine has always been there for me no matter what. Hundreds of cups of tea have been shared and poured, every joy and sorrow has been discussed over a hot cuppa. On this day, I noticed a perfect little tin teapot on the counter and I thought it was adorable. It had “Made in Ireland” stamped on the bottom and I loved it. Without missing a beat, she said “take it, you can have it, it’s just a little tin pot.”
That little tin pot has been on my kitchen windowsill ever since, and I’m pretty sure that if there was a fire, after I made sure my children were safe, I would grab it and run. I would leave my beloved iPhone behind, I wouldn’t bother to save my laptop or even my favorite red stiletto heels. But that teapot is coming with me, no matter what. And the hat too, definitely the hat.
The things we choose to assign value to say a lot about who we are. Every one of the objects that I treasure has a story. It’s almost as if they have an energy of their own. I am not one to be Miss Crunchy New Age, not by a long shot. Not for nothing I am way too twitchy to get all Zen about anything other than my morning coffee and my evening glass of wine. And yet whenever I wear my “B” necklace, or have a cup of tea or put on the Kelley green hat I can feel it.
There’s a lot going on in the universe. Negative energy, positive energy, bird poop you just never know what’s going to land on you next. Keeping the things I treasure close, having the memories they bring surround me is my own way of taking on whatever the universe can dish out. A hat, a cup of tea and some sparkle, each one with it’s own history. That’s a pretty good start.