Of all the family heirlooms...
In some families there are treasured possessions, usually an antique or a piece of jewelry, that get passed down for generations through family members. There is a certain pride and responsibility in partaking in that transfer of ownership. After all, heirlooms represent family wealth and history and the preservation of those highly coveted and valued possessions helps to maintain family order.
We associate heirlooms with items like antique clocks, baby grands, quilts, engagement rings, letters and pictures, recipes, and in some instances property. In families that lack such material keepsakes as well as in those that have heirlooms, there are other non-material items that follow a similar path. High on the list of non-material items that get passed down for generations through family members are beliefs.
Beliefs are part of a bigger system that ultimately shapes values. Certainly family members have the right to choose which beliefs they want to adopt as their own just as they can decide which heirlooms they covet the most, but the large majority tend to gravitate towards those beliefs first explained to them at a young age and by their respected elders.
Not too unlike a baby learning to talk, beliefs get pounded into the subconscious and can reside there unchallenged for a lifetime. There they can become the non-material heirlooms we unknowingly covet with grand conviction and as with the path of all heirlooms, these beliefs get passed down for generations through family members.
Stories that begin with "Your grandmother used to say..." or "Your great uncle believed that..." are the ways a lot of these beliefs find their way into family folk lore. Because these beliefs are told to us at young ages we do not yet possess the critical thinking skills that might help us better process this new information. As a result we store these beliefs similar to way we do a majority of our material heirlooms, up in the attic or in a Hope Chest, out of sight and out of mind.
Most non-material family heirlooms are harmless pieces of trivia and little is known as to their origin, and that's OK. Whether these types of beliefs are fact or fiction has little to do with how they're perceived. Non-material heirlooms can be a lot of fun and because they're non-material, all family members can share in their ownership.
But when some non-material family heirlooms suddenly make an appearance they can be startling, especially to non-family members. Usually it's during casual conversation that these dust-covered beliefs find their way out of the dark attic and into the light. Someone might use the phrase "Jew you down", the N-word, or refer to something as "gay". Either way, it's very revealing. And not only about the individual spewing such bigotry, but about the family and its non-material heirlooms.
As a noun the word "loom" refers to "a machine for weaving thread or yarn into cloth". As a verb it means "to come into sight indistinctly, especially threateningly". It can be said that non-material family heirlooms have the potential for developing raw materials into fabric and if those raw materials are bigoted at their roots, they can come into plain view indistinctly.
Of all the family heirlooms, beliefs can be the most damning inheritance...