Handed down

by Jennifer on July 29, 2008

This afternoon, I was at my desk in my office when Girl walked in and said, “Look at me, Mommy.”

I turned, and there she was, wearing a sweater the color of sky. It was a little big on her, and the sleeves hung just below her fingertips. In another year or so, I’d say, it will fit her perfectly.

The way it fit me just over 30 years ago, when it was mine.

Earlier, she was looking for a teddy bear that had gone missing, and I suggested she look in one of the boxes in her room. She didn’t find the bear, but she did find two big hat boxes full of special things I’m keeping for her. In one of them, she found the sweater. I’ve kept it all these years, somehow never losing track of it over three decades.

When I was seven or eight, I had to buy it with my own money to replace the one I lost on the train at the St. Louis Zoo. The lesson I learned about taking care of my things may have had something to do with why I held onto it long after I grew out of it. Later on, in my 20s, I knew I was saving it for a daughter, if I ever had one.

That it survived this long is remarkable–I’ve moved 13 times since I left home for college.

In the early 90s, a fire in a storage facility destroyed virtually all of the possessions my sister and I had left from our childhood. Board games, Chatty Cathy dolls, Barbies, books, records. I have no idea why, but at some point before that fire, I must have removed the sweater from storage, along with a few other things. Two small rocking chairs our grandpa made for our Barbies. The bright pink pillbox hat and purse my grandma wore to my parents’ wedding in 1966. Another purse of hers, embroidered.

I’m glad to have these things, but (and this surprises me, still) I don’t miss the rest of it all that much. I was devastated at first, and I would love to have all of it back, but time takes care of things like that. The memories are enough for me.

Or they have been, so far.

But I would be holding back if I didn’t tell you how ridiculously happy (and teary) it made me to turn and see my daughter wearing my old sweater today. To see her pull up the sleeves so that her hands were free, and to watch her snuggle into it and wear it for an hour or two. I could tell she loved knowing that it had been mine, though the timeline is longer than her reach in this world and more than she can understand.

When she took it off, she folded it up as well as her newly-seven year old self could. Still, the result of her effort was a bit messy. Messy, and (to me) very, very sweet.

The way the best things we carry along with us through life often are.


I couldn’t help thinking about this song today. I listened to it a lot when I was pregnant with each of my children:


Thank you for all the well-wishes and good thoughts for my dad yesterday. He’s doing better today and there’s talk of going home, but the some of the mystery lingers.

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate July 29, 2008 at 5:23 am

That is so sweet!

Kates last blog post..Meme

RiverPoet July 29, 2008 at 6:14 am

How cool that you saved something for your daughter from which you learned a valuable life lesson. It’s cool that you’ll know she will treasure it when the time comes.

Peace – D

RiverPoets last blog post..What I Want is for You to Have What You Need

Gwen July 29, 2008 at 6:30 am

I’m impressed that you managed to keep the sweater so long, through so many upheavals. I always wish I did things like those, but I am too lazy and/or practical to be able to pull it off.

Denise July 29, 2008 at 6:38 am

Your daughter obviously treasures it. That is so cool! Mine throws it over in the corner and sticks up her nose……sigh.

Denises last blog post..Defining Moment

Hilary July 29, 2008 at 6:57 am

Of the things you’ve handed down to your daughter, she’s clearly illustrated that sentiment is among them. Lovely story, Jennifer. Maybe one day, your granddaughter will find that sweater…

Hilarys last blog post..Flowers, Insects and the Warmth of the Sun

tysdaddy July 29, 2008 at 7:00 am

One of the few things that survived from my childhood is a stuffed animal named Gonk. He’s a big, round fella reminiscent of Captain Caveman. He’s quite worn, one eye is gone, and his arms are clinging by tendons of thread. But he resides in a corner of my son’s bed. Gonk’s favorite spot . . .

tysdaddys last blog post..Being Kirk

Tina July 29, 2008 at 8:08 am

That is SO wonderful. Do you have any photos of yourself in the sweater? You could put a photo of each of you in the sweater in a double frame and then give it to your daughter…

Just a thought…

Madge July 29, 2008 at 8:15 am

So sweet. I love that you saved that sweater all those years….

Lisa July 29, 2008 at 8:15 am

Awwwww…that would just melt my heart if my daughters did that 🙂
Beautiful song–I thought I heard all these types of songs but I never heard that one before!

Lisas last blog post..A Great way to Start the Week!

Ann July 29, 2008 at 9:03 am

That was a sweet story – I can picture her little, perfect hands trying to fold that sweater, just so. Perfectly imperfect.

I hope your Dad is well and that things improve, I’m sending good thoughts your/his way. 🙂

Jenn @ Juggling Life July 29, 2008 at 9:41 am

What a sweet story.

I’ve barely moved at all and probably have about the same amount of memorabilia. I’m a total purger.

Mark Salinas July 29, 2008 at 9:46 am

Very nice! 🙂

Mark Salinass last blog post..Want to fight fatigue?

Daryl July 29, 2008 at 10:26 am

Glad to hear your dad is doing better … and I guess belated happy birthday wishes are due The Girl …

Daryls last blog post..toonsday – husbandisms

Bruce July 29, 2008 at 2:25 pm

I have found that one of the bad habits we have is collecting things and not letting go well beyond their usefulness. As though all the stuff we have crammed into our garages and attics will be handed down like some King Tut’s treasure to our descendents or sell for a billion dollars on ebay.

The reality is, there are only two things worth saving, pictures (or other media) and personal letters & journals. Everything else is junk. The trick to life is to come in with nothing and leave with nothing and have nothing but wonderful memories inbetween. Much to most folks horror, you can’t be buried with all your treasure.

You were lucky to only have the few things saved from the fire. They take on more significance and meaning. Fill one large box with all your keepsakes for your children, and throw everything else away.

Bruces last blog post..My – POV [Triangles]

flutter July 29, 2008 at 2:28 pm

thinking about you, Jen

flutters last blog post..pen and ink

JCK July 29, 2008 at 4:01 pm

This is such a lovely post, Jennifer. How special that you’ve kept it all these years and …suddenly she is in it. Just like you were.

So glad to hear that your dad is better. I hope he gets to go home soon and the mysteries are solved.

JCKs last blog post..What I took away from BlogHer ’08…

Manic Mommy July 29, 2008 at 5:30 pm

What a wonderful story. I’m so pleased for you that she wanted it as much as you wanted her to. And what a pleasant surprise.

I love the way you’ve turned bad memories into good. It is a gift.

Manic Mommys last blog post..The S-JAMM Awards

slouching mom July 29, 2008 at 6:23 pm


and this?

though the timeline is longer than her reach in this world and more than she can understand.

yes. oh, yes.

my thoughts are with your dad.

slouching moms last blog post..Deception

Sandy (Momisodes) July 29, 2008 at 8:35 pm

So incredibly sweet 🙂

I remember digging into my mom’s stash of Mary Tyler Moore-ish clothes and trying them on too. I loved it! And like your daughter, I hope my little girl will one day do the same 🙂

Sandy (Momisodes)s last blog post..Shh. Follow me this way…

Sandy (Momisodes) July 29, 2008 at 8:36 pm

Ugh, hit publish too quickly.

Glad to hear the news about your father.

Sandy (Momisodes)s last blog post..Shh. Follow me this way…

Mrs. G. July 30, 2008 at 8:51 am

I’m in sentimental PMS mode right now, so if you were here, I would sing you a operatic version of The Circle of Life.

Mrs. G.s last blog post..IKEA

San Diego Momma July 30, 2008 at 2:38 pm

I love love love that song. I had the lyrics posted on my birth announcements.

San Diego Mommas last blog post..Monster on My Wing

SteveCinNM July 30, 2008 at 2:54 pm

Nicely done.

Minnesota Matron July 30, 2008 at 3:07 pm

What a lovely, complex post. This, and your father, reminded me of mine. He lost everything he owned in a storage unit when I stopped paying the rent on it. I had been paying this storage unit for years, and just felt like it was time to cut the cord for financial and familial reasons. I feel sad that my father and stepmother lost all of their histories, but feel worse that he was unable to master the most fundaments of life, like being able to pay the bills or live somewhere steadily. Anyway. . . got me thinking!

anymommy July 31, 2008 at 12:03 am

Such a sweet moment. I can see her in that sweater (you’re an amazing writer). It’s funny what we hang onto.

anymommys last blog post..A Sonnet to Bathtime

Louise July 31, 2008 at 5:58 am

That’s sweet. And it’s wonderful you have it. And more wonderful it wasn’t in the fire.

There is a picture of my mom in a sweater in high school. I always wanted that sweater. I vowed I would save something for my daughters, but I haven’t found anything really to save in all these years since I decided it was important.

I know Girl loved it because it was yours. I need to find something like that.

I’m all teary, too!

Louises last blog post..Top 100 Movies Meme

Just Jamie July 31, 2008 at 9:21 am

This reminds me of a children’s book I bought for my little brother. When I was curled up in bed reading it to my kiddos recently, it hit me. When I bought this I never knew what was ahead. I turned the pages for my little brother, and now I do it for my children who I always dreamed of, but never knew their faces.

Love your blue sweater story, especially that you DID know who would climb into it on day.

Just Jamies last blog post..Wordless Wednesday

Merisi August 1, 2008 at 5:06 am

Such a lovely story, thank you for sharing these special moment in life!

I came over her thanks to David, from Authorblog!

Sandi McBride August 1, 2008 at 7:35 am

Such a beautiful post…I’ll never quite look at hand me downs the same way again
congrats on Post of the Day mention…David sent me Hpe your Dad is well

Sandi McBrides last blog post..I’m a dingdanged computer genius…of sorts…

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