By Melissa Wynn

Family heirlooms are a wonderful way to preserve family histories and traditions and the holiday season is a perfect time to pass them on.

While browsing your favorite local antique stores this shopping season keep your eyes peeled for the perfect gift to pass on to preserve your special family traditions. Perhaps your grandfather played the guitar and you would love to see your child learn as well. Grab a guitar that is just like grandpa’s and encourage them to play together and the music is sure to live on for generations to come.

From the dreaded ugly Christmas sweater to the embroidered skirt that lies beneath grandmother’s tree, families have “things” that make their holidays their own. Expand on those and share similar items with family members whenever the opportunity arises. For example, if you inherited Aunt Jane’s favorite China but you know your sister loved it too, you might get lucky and find the same set in that unique little shop down the road. Wouldn’t that be the best sentimental gift? And in the end both sets will probably wind up together in the cupboards of the next generation.

Nothing brings out the inner child like a toy from long ago. It may seem silly to buy your 70-year-old father a box of Lincoln Logs or an ancient train set from the antique store for Christmas. But, chances are, if you do, by days end he will have found a child to “show how it works” and both will truly enjoy the play. From Raggedy Ann to Tiddlywinks, Care Bears to Erector Sets, everyone has a toy from their own childhood era that can whisk them back there just from the sight of the box. Whether you are looking for gift for a baby boomer or a millennial you are sure to find a toy that defined their era.

Some things never go out of style and every little girl dreams of starting her hope chest. A traditional simple cedar chest was what we once expected it to be but that is no longer the case. These days hope chests come in all shapes and sizes and can be found in the oddest places. From an old steamer trunk from your local antique dealer to a spectacular hat box from the 1920’s you spotted at an estate sale and filled with bits of grandma’s old costume jewelry, a hope chest can and should be as unique as the girl that receives it.

One hope chest item that stands the test of time is a family quilt. These can be made from any cloth items that were saved over the years. Old t-shirts from vacations, concerts and special events are just one popular idea. Everything from sports jerseys and cheerleading uniforms to awarded ribbons and grandpa’s fancy embroidered handkerchief can be incorporated, there are no rules. Antique quilts can be purchased and passed on as well. If it fits your family history, go with it!

Heirlooms are also a great gift for that young man that is so hard to shop for. The season can be so meaningful when special family pieces are passed to the next generation. Perhaps that bundle of letters exchanged by your great-grandparents during the war belongs in the hands of your son that just joined the service and will deploy soon. Family histories are made during the holidays. Maybe he is finally ready to propose to that special girl and it is time to offer him Grandma’s engagements ring. Vintage jewelry never loses it’s class and neither does a proposal with a precious family keepsake.

Keep the holiday festivities unique to your family with the little things from the past that mean so much as the years pass. Pass on the things that bring the joy of the season to the next generation and watch for the wonder it puts in your eyes and in theirs. That’s what an old fashioned Christmas is all about.

Small Business Saturday is an excellent time to visit your small, local antique stores and what-not shops.