I think sometimes that the ancients had it right, that we ought be buried with what we own. That too many spirits inhabit these things of ours for them to be anything but haunted. This vase here that was grandmother’s a generation ago is too valuable to be used, a cabinet piece, a thing in a museum. This jacket here, one of hundred of papa’s jackets. Why keep it? Bury it with the dead.
Some things, heirlooms: grandfather’s pocket watch, the wedding ring, the sewing machine, the dutch oven from a time long gone. These are useful, or they are symbols. These we pass on to our children. These, too, are haunted. Grandfather’s spirit wound into the works of the watch. Grandmother’s reflection in the band of the ring. We use them; we keep the memories nearby.
There was a time when things were more precious, when papa’s leather jacket was the only source of warmth for a growing boy. When cast iron pans were passed down from mother to daughter, along with centuries of tradition. When that pocketknife was a young man’s most valuable possession. But possessions are no longer valued according to the spirits within them. Now we appraise things at dollar value, on television, in shops, as antiques or moderns and we care not for the spirits engraved within these things. Papa’s leather jacket is worthless, old and worn; cast it out with the trash. Newer and better pocketknives can be bought with the click of a button. Grandma’s dutch oven left in the basement to rust. The simple gold band replaced with diamonds, emeralds, and rubies.
The ancients knew: things are haunted, too. Send them with the departed for the afterlife. They need them, in the next, foreign world, more than we.