Annette in Persian lamb coat at Christkindlmarket

Welcome to the last day of my countdown towards my online course Capturing Family History in a Book of My Things. I’m really excited that it begins tomorrow! Today is the last day to enroll!

Each day I’ve been sharing a story about a family object. I’ve heard from several of you. It’s been lovely to see your reactions and to hear how my stories gave you ideas and inspired you to come up with your own stories. That’s the point of this whole endeavor! If you want to continue that journey, join the course!

Today’s family heirloom: Nana’s Persian lamb coat

It might be a rarer thing to a) still have a clothing item from someone who has passed away, and b) to still wear it regularly. Such is the case, however, with my mother-in-law’s Persian lamb coat. You already met Nana in my post about the gobelin tapestries she used to create.

I have found sorting through the clothes of someone who has passed on a particularly sad task. I’ve always ended up having to give so many of them away to charity. Nana had lots of high-quality clothes. She weighed a bit more than me, and I am taller than she was, so most of her clothes did not fit me. Nor were they my taste. We did give some of her tops to my mom, who still wears one of them, a black top with a rhinestone butterfly embellishment. I did keep lots of Nana’s silk scarves (They don’t need to fit! 😉 ) and wear them all the time.

The prize, for me, however, was to discover that Nana’s Persian lamb coat fit me quite well.

She had a few other fur coats, which were quite valuable, but they didn’t fit me. Plus a mink coat is just not my thing. Thankfully we found friends who were thrilled to receive them. I actually don’t recall seeing Nana wear that Persian lamb coat. However, we did not spend that much time together in the winter.

I’ve always liked black Persian lamb and its knobby texture and its lack of fluff. It’s so elegant, vintage, and unusual these days. My grandmother used to own a Persian lamb hat. After she passed, I wore it as my winter hat for years and years until its edges were frayed.

Nana died in 2010, yet the coat still carries the faint scent of her perfume.

I find that comforting. Initially, I mainly wore her coat to the opera, which was entirely fitting because she loved going to the opera. It was one of the things we enjoyed doing together. Then I discovered that this coat is the best shield against Chicago’s icy winter winds, so I now like to wear it when I go out and it’s really cold outside. In the above picture, I’m wearing it when I met a friend at the Christkindlmarket to toast the release of my second book How to Write Compelling Stories from Family History in December 2019.

I always get compliments when I wear that coat. When I feel its weight on my shoulders, I’m slipping into the past. I feel like I’m ready for icy Russian winters and snow blowing over the steppe.