Second Hand Life

Growing up, hand me downs were the norm in my life.  My older sister’s clothes, toys and books were often passed down to me when she was done with them – and odds were good that they were handed down to her from our older cousins.  It never bothered me.  Then (as now), I didn’t worry much about being in fashion, so I was not concerned about the style of my clothes.  Although, now that I’m looking back with a bit more perspective…maybe I should have been:

This picture is blurry, but perhaps that is for the best…

Oh those wacky 1970’s clothes!  I wonder what lucky child that ensemble was handed down to?!

In any event, those days are over.  But my second hand life goes on…and I’m not only talking about the hand me downs my own children wear.

Looking about my home, I realize that most of my furniture was passed on to me from a friend or family member.  (The only exception is the living room set we purchased two years ago.  I predict we’ll own it FOREVER.)  What wasn’t bestowed on us by loved ones, we purchased second-hand.

It doesn’t stop with furniture.  Other family treasures have been handed down to me as well:  jewelry, knick-knacks, vintage books, family recipes and photographs.  I have treasure chests filled with baby blankets, school papers, my Mom-mom’s hats and handkerchiefs, and old letters.  I even have vintage yarn.  I am, at this very moment, baking a pumpkin pie in a pie tin that is older than I am.

I live far away from most of my family.  Other dear loved ones, sadly, have passed away.  My second hand life keeps them all close, whether we are separated by miles or eternity.  For example, I made my sister’s signature summer dessert for a potluck last month.  I smiled when the dish was emptied before any other, remembering all the times she treated me and my family to the same dessert.  That pie tin in the oven once belonged to my grandmother, and it is lined with crust made from my mother’s recipe. My Mom-Mom’s crocheted doilies grace my table tops.  When I put my husband’s newly laundered t-shirts away, I remember when this same dresser stood in my grandfather’s room, and how he used to keep a Hershey bar tucked inside the skinny top drawer.  I open my jewelry box to choose a pair of earrings, and see a favorite necklace of my aunt’s nestled in the corner – for a moment I smile and wonder if she is watching me from heaven.

Yes, I live a second hand life — cluttered with hand-me-downs and mementos, and decorated with used furniture – but I’m not complaining.

In fact, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

9 thoughts on “Second Hand Life

  1. This was a great post. So much of my own things were found in thrift stores and yards sales and such. I like to think of it as recycling 🙂 and there’s something very comforting and grounding about vintage and antiques…especially in the kitchen. They were made differently, for one thing, but also, a kind of patina is one these pieces from all of the hands that used them with love. Very precious when the items are family treasures, like yours


    1. I agree that older items seem to retain some thing from those who once used them; I feel this way about some items that I’ve obtained second hand, not just the ones that belonged to people I know. I might be over-romanticizing them, but I always feel like an old piece of furniture has a certain mystery to it, as if it is privy to many secrets. I am not one for shopping in malls or superstores, but I could spent all day wandering through second hand stores and antique shops.


  2. Loved this story….I too love older things, acquired from family or yard sales or second hand shops…I just feel cozier and happier with older things rather then more up to date things….Thanks Kristine….


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