Giving things away by passing them along

tiny violinistMy great aunt took great joy in giving possessions away during the latter years of her life. I recall one afternoon when she told me she’d had “a talk” with her long-deceased mother-in-law, and that they agreed it was time for the old German chair – a bit of a family heirloom I long admired – to go home with me. She insisted it leave that very day, despite my uncertainty as to whether it would fit in the backseat of the car. (It did.)

She loved knowing the chair had a new home and would frequently ask about it. The chair continues to make me smile, and it gets used every day. But this story isn’t about the chair.

When she passed away I acquired a handful of meaningful items I continue to enjoy. The smallest of these was a tiny silver violinist.

During the years I visited and sipped many cups of tea with my aunt, this little guy and his instrument sat behind me atop the mid-century modern buffet and china cabinet. To me, this was the material manifestation of the proverbial sad song on the world’s tiniest violin. (You know it: the song you mime by rubbing your thumb and forefinger together while making a faux sad face as a friend tells you a story that is far from pitiful.) But I also found it to be quietly uplifting and inspiring. My great aunt and her husband were fans of classical music and loved attending the symphony. Her father (a.k.a. my great grandfather) was a violin teacher.

Up until a few weeks ago, the figurine lived on a ledge above my desk, fiddling a tune for an equally diminutive dancing Ganesh. When I was presented with an invitation to a dear friend’s middle school graduation party, it took no time for me to ponder and determine the perfect gift. A passionate and dedicated violinist since her single digit years, I had a hunch she’d appreciate the story attached to this slightly tarnished fellow. It’s better than anything I ever could have found in a store. Passing along this little token from my biological family to someone who is part of my chosen family felt like the right thing to do. After opening it, she decided it needed to live on top of the piano.

Thank you so much for the tiny violinist! It’s very motivating and it will definitely be a good reminder to practice the violin, in addition to the piano.

Did I mention my great aunt played the piano, too?

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  1. Avatar
    Sven Reply

    Love the photo with the red circle! A tiny violinist indeed. Great story, with so many subtle lessons embedded in it.

    • deb
      deb Reply

      Thanks for seeing the tiny lessons within the tiny violinist, Sven. There’s almost always magic in the seemingly mundane. (And man, the red circle was hard to freehand with a trackball!)

  2. Avatar
    Soleil Reply

    Oh what a sweet sweet story! Thank you for your soulful sharings… one of my favorite emails to open.

    • deb
      deb Reply

      So glad to bring a dose of sweetness to your inbox today! Comments like yours make me aim to do this again and again.

  3. Avatar
    coral reiff Reply

    a wonderful heartfelt tale! Thank you for sharing it AND the diminutive fiddler. Pass on the beauty….

    • deb
      deb Reply

      Thanks for reading, coral! Remember, beauty comes in all shapes and sizes : )

  4. Avatar
    Toni Ahlgren Reply

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    Lovely story, Deb.


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    Pam Bickell Reply

    A touching and a teaching story. I don’t know if I could’ve given it away…thanks for sharing about ‘letting go.’

    • deb
      deb Reply

      Truth be told, Pam, when the idea of passing him along first came to me, I wavered a few brief times throughout the week. When I decided it was the right decision, it was just right. I’m not attached to the violinist, but I love that I could let him move into someone else’s world and life story.

      • Avatar
        Pam Bickell Reply

        What you did is tap into our human story as a whole. What belonged to your aunt and then you really belongs to a bigger story. Beautiful!

        • deb
          deb Reply

          So humbled to know it struck such a deep place.

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    Christine Reply

    Love your inspiring story of legacy, hello Mr. tiny Violinist!

  7. Avatar
    Tom Reply

    Deb: Subject: “Learning is a never-ending process” is a favorite of the seven principles you try to follow. Also liked the story of tiny violinist. The road of life is full of twists and turns. Tom

  8. Avatar

    Next time I offer a gift in this vein, I’ll also send the recipient a link to this post. In hopes that this will eventually become the norm!

    • deb
      deb Reply

      I’m honored, Gina!

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