My family has a thing for heirlooms. And, not necessarily in the traditional sense of your great-grandmother’s Tiffany lamp or Ming vase. We’re into the stuff that evokes memories. Stuff we remember from our childhood or the simplest thing that belonged to someone we love.

Some of the most cherished items in my house were given to me by a grandparent, purchased at the auction of a friend or relative or even rescued from a box destined for our family’s annual garage sale. Many of them are kitschy, shabby and even downright creepy.

This Christmas, after the kids had opened their presents, dinner was eaten and cleaned up, we adults gathered in the living room for our white elephant gift exchange. Imagine our delight when the very first gift opened (by my brother-in-law) was an heirloom! My mom was passing on Zippy, her toy monkey from the 1950s!

I think my brother-in-law was a bit horrified to be confronted with Zippy’s plastic face, giant ears and creepy hands. My sister quickly stole him from her own husband when it was her turn. I think she was afraid he would give it away (or burn it.) I was seriously eyeing that monkey. But my “little” sister is a lot stronger than me, and she reminded me that she can still leave bruises.


Then, she started looking like she might cry if anyone took that monkey from her. (He came with a gift card, too. I told her she could keep the gift card, even if I stole the monkey. She wasn’t buying it.)

So, when it came to be my turn to pick a new gift or steal one, I let her keep Zippy. Although, I may have mumbled something about her getting the monkey and the red chair…


Ah, yes, the red chair. This super-comfy retro red chair was a fixture at my grandparents’ house when I was a kid. It has a wooden base, and a pair of springy metal bars that make it move like a bouncy rocking chair. I have no idea who manufactured this chair, but I have never seen another one like it.

When my grandma moved to a smaller place, the red chair ended up at my mom’s house, and then one day, it showed up at my sister’s house! What?! Mom had given it to her, without even asking if anyone else wanted it! She was in the right place at the right time. And, frankly, that’s how most heirlooms get handed down around here.

So, I’ve been a bit jealous about that chair for several years. Comments have been spoken. Threats of theft have been made. Last Saturday evening, we arrived home after spending Christmas day with my in-laws and there was something giant on our front porch. Something giant covered by a big plastic Santa Claus gift bag. And there was a tag. “Merry Christmas from Your Not So Evil Sister.” The chair. Just as bouncy as I remembered it.


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