Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Gifts and Expectations

I find the holidays trying. It is not the gifts. It's the expectations. For me, it's the expectations of people who are maternal genetic family but strangers in any meaningful way

Sadly, creating distance with them usually requires a very firm stance on my part. They rarely seem to hear me. And their expectations of who I am don't match my reality - even the reality of those of you who just follow me here, they've certainly never tried to reach out to know me as one would any stranger in a social setting. It would be a gift for them to just accept me without expectations. It won't happen. They enjoy their expectations. I enjoy the freedom of not dealing with their expectations.

When La Gram Russe passed, I got her silver. I didn't ask for it. It created fuss in the family. The minute she updated her will to say I'd receive it, some of them checked online for value. It was worth thousands, they said.The value derived from where it was acquired  and the hardship of bringing it here. It came with her from her life in Germany. (The stopping place between her native Russia and America.) The value they placed on it was monetary - and not anywhere near the reality. Their expectations are often out of alignment with reality.

Antiquing is a hobby of mine. I like to look at old things. I like the history. Perhaps because La Gram Russe was able to bring so little. Perhaps because the Southern side of my family had so few material things worth saving. I like to look. While out with Guy, we found a gorgeous antique silver set. Older than what I was to inherit, the same silver weight as the set La Gram Russe has - but English, I think, not German. $175. Lovely. Rather complete - nearly an 8 piece setting with extras, like soup spoons. And no expectation of value beyond what was assigned. Most days I wish I'd bought the set. 

After La Gram Russe passed, I got the family silver. It arrived after the 40 day mourning period, after the aunts went through the house. My mother gave it to me. 6 knives (1 broken), 6 dinner forks, 6 teaspoons, 2 demitasse spoons, 4 tasting spoons. They are plain, heavy pieces of flatware. Quite Germanic. Not to my taste. And not near the value expectations of the aunts. It was a well-meant gift from La Gram Russe, ruined by their expectation and fussing about monetary value. I don't even want the silver. It is literally worthless to me. 

What makes me happier daily is La Gram Russe's inexpensive daily china. No one else wanted it; and in the moves, I misplaced my plates. These were perfect. 4 plates, 4 salad plates, 4 bowls, 4 tea cups/saucers. Nothing fancy. And every day I value using them. They literally make me happy to use. No expectations. 

Take-away - Value is in the eye of the beholder.  

Another post of my attempts to manage my maternal family.
- Message in a Bottle

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