I’m not much for material possessions. I didn’t grow up with money and I didn’t save money so very rarely have I had anything that had much value beyond sentimental value. If forced to save something from a fire, I would grab my acoustic guitar for sentimental reasons and my great-grandfather’s gold watch for family reasons. Beyond that, I can’t think of much I’d miss.
After my wife’s parents passed recently, we acquired some things. A few nice pieces of furniture, a few nice pieces of art and some lamps. One lamp, in particular, my wife liked. I confess I don’t have much of an eye for these things and I wouldn’t have looked twice at it. But it needed re-wiring and when I took it in to a specialty shop, the lady, who wasn’t young, said she had never seen anything like it before. The socketry she’d never seen before. It was cast bronze. She said it was likely from France in the 1920’s. Her eyes had lit up in the way some of those experts on Antiques Road Show get excited. Custom made, almost a 100 year old lamp. Now that I look at it more closely, I see the appeal.
But what I like the most about it is the idea of it. It’s almost a hundred years old and from another continent and it was custom made. Who made it? In what room did it sit and what did it illuminate? What books were read by its light? What letters were written under its glow? And how did my wife’s parents find it and what drew them to it?
Now it sits in our living room and helps provide light and beauty and warm feelings for my wife and me. And I like to think that whoever may have created it would be pleased that his or her craftsmanship is still providing joy to people in a world they wouldn’t even recognize.