Family Heirlooms — Unexpected and Traditional — And What They Mean to Us

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hands with gold jewelry
 (Getty Images)

For New Yorker staff writer Hua Hsu, they’re cardboard cutouts that decorated his parents’ wedding, “each the size of a 45-r.p.m. single: an orange Snoopy and two Woodstocks, one white and one light blue.” For artist Ari Bird, it’s a tree pompom that her grandfather painted gold and gave to her as a child. Whether it's a portrait, a wedding dress, an album or a Snoopy cutout, the objects we inherit  speak to who our families are, who we were, and what we value. We want to hear from you: what’s a family heirloom passed down to you — or that you hope to pass down to future generations? What makes it valuable? Leave us a voicemail at 415-553-3300 or email us at


Hua Hsu, staff writer, New Yorker magazine; professor of Literature, Bard College; author, forthcoming memoir "Stay True"

Ari Bird, visual artist based in Oakland and San Diego