The ancient Chinese revered their ancestors.                                            

Perhaps this is nowhere more evident than in the ancient Chinese bronze vessels used for sacrifice.

These priceless objects were part of an elaborate ritual ceremony to commemorate the deceased, based in part, on the belief that one’s’ ancestors would continue to watch over you from the afterlife.

As long as you kept them happy, that is.

In those days, Bronze was an expensive metal, not easily obtained. It was reserved for use by the elite members of the aristocracy and upper class citizens – those that could afford to honor their ancestors properly.

Thus, by offering food and wine in these intricately carved bronze bowls and ewers, honor was maintained.

In our Western culture, we have a different set of customs that dictate how we honor our loved ones, and we do this primarily through family heirlooms and treasured keepsakes.

A common practice is to cherish an object that we know was previously loved by the deceased – such as an antique chair, a decorative object or other works of art.

It’s as if our loved ones live on in these keepsakes, and so, for sentimental reasons, we continue to keep them in our homes and our hearts.

However, at some point, we may need to ask ourselves whether these family treasures are still fulfilling their original purpose.

Do you truly love those keepsakes that you’ve treasured for so long? Are they inherently beautiful?

Or, is your devotion due to sentimental reasons only?

If it’s the latter, you might even find (heaven forbid) that you don’t really like that overstuffed Victorian chair, that once belonged to your great Aunt Martha.

The very thought is scary.

It feels disrespectful.

You suddenly realize that, if it wasn’t for the emotional attachment, you might have given away this prized possession a long time ago.

It’s a tough call, I know.

I had a great aunt named Hedwig, whom I loved dearly, and to this day, I still own several keepsakes that belonged to her.

I not only treasure those antiques– but I often think of her when I recall the family history behind those particular items.

The memories make me smile

Yet, there are other things which – if I’m really honest with myself – I can see that my attachment is not so great.

That if push came to shove, I could part with them

We hear a lot these days about clearing out the mountains of stuff in our homes, accumulated over our lifetimes.

If you’re among the many of us who are deep in the process of sorting through the household clutter that surrounds you, perhaps it’s time to address some of your treasured keepsakes.

Ask yourself why you’re really keeping those items. Do you truly love them? Do they still serve a purpose in your life?

If the answer is ‘Yes’ – then by all means, keep them.

However, if the answer is ‘No’ or ‘Maybe’– it might be time to move on, and listen to what your heart is really telling you.