Column: Respecting the soul in old things


Commentary by Stephanie Sullivan

My love of thrifting began years ago when I had no money and was trying to turn my first house into a home.

Shabby end tables spiffed up with a coat of paint? Check!

A set of lamp bases made chic with new shades? Done!

Over time, my attraction to thrifting changed. I was making more money. I could shop where I wanted. But still I was drawn to things that others had discarded.

I realized that more than saving money, what I loved about thrifting was sharing in the story, the soul, of an old object. Maybe that sounds a little “woo woo,” but I love bringing an item into my home that carries with it some history. Vinyl Christmas albums that played while another family decorated their holiday tree warm my heart. A cake plate that took center stage at a distant child’s birthday party makes me smile. A vintage serving tray that delivered cocktails to a gathering of long-ago friends connects me to another generation of couples who love to entertain.

I believe that things don’t lose their purpose after one person finishes with them. After all, we cherish an heirloom that is handed down within our own family, why can’t we feel that same reverence when an item is handed across families?

I have a thrifted fruit bowl that I absolutely adore: It’s pedastalled, scalloped, and holds a ton of fruit for my sizeable family. Each time I fill it up, I think of another parent, across time, filling it up for his or her brood. Did those kids turn up their noses at brown-spotted bananas like mine do? Did they ignore the grapefruit too? Probably. Even across generations, some things never change.


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