There are times when protecting precious objects requires a certain level of stealthiness.
In a popular post on the AITA subreddit, a woman asked if she's wrong for hiding family heirlooms when relatives visit. She wrote:
I (42 F) am one of five children, and my father died when we were very young leaving my mom and my four siblings. My parents had collected a lot of cool things over the years. When my mom downsized to a condo after all the kids had left home, she got rid of a lot of items that she no longer had room for.
We all had things that we were sentimental about and as one of the younger siblings I didn't request anything although I had strong connections to a few items. After everyone had decided on what they wanted I wound up with three things that were of little to no financial value, but I treasure them for the memories they represent. The first item is a tractor seat that is bolted to a butcher block to make a funky chair.
The second item is a 1970s tacky spice cabinet, and the third thing is a set of stoneware pastry bowls that my mom had saved green stamps to buy. Over the years my siblings have sold, destroyed, or lost the items that they got. And now, when they come to my house, they often comment on the things I have "I didn't know you got those", "I've always wanted that", etc.
My mom even told my sister behind my back that she could have tractor seat chair that I had because "I wasn't really using it". My mom saw that I had it in the garage because I was protecting it from the weather and it needed sanding. For other reasons, I have gone no contact with this sister.
Well, she texted me out of the blue to ask if she could have the chair. I told her it was sentimental for me and I would prefer to keep it. She tried to guilt trip me about how she didn't have anything left from our parents. I didn't reply, conversation over.
I also knew that if she had it, it would likely be ruined since she is a bit of a hoarder and doesn't take care of things. She has let a flooding basement go on unresolved for years and her entire house smells like mildew. So bad that I can smell it on her whenever I'm around her. She refuses to acknowledge there is a problem.
Shortly after the text exchange, my mom came to house-sit for one night, and I hid the chair in question because I was worried she was going to have my sister come over and grab it, or take it for her. Then again recently, my mom asked me if she could have the spice rack to give to my sister. I said that I was using it, which is true.
We will be hosting Christmas this year and I plan to hide the bowls, the chair, and the spice rack while my family is visiting. I'm starting to feel like I don't really want anything to do with my family at all, including the heirlooms.
I'm not someone who is generally attached to things, especially when it starts to affect a relationship, but I feel on principle this is about more than the heirlooms and more about boundaries. I feel bad about hiding things, but AITA?
NTA, but your mom, and not your sister, is the biggest AH. Your mom is literally trying to take your things and give them to your sister.
Hide your spice, hide your chair, hide your bowls!
NTA I am a professional organizer dealing with a hoarded house right now and all the damage that happens when you pack an entire landfill into a home. UGH.
And OP responded:
Bless you! My mom is a bit of a hoarder too, it was a monumental effort getting her from a five-bedroom home to a condo. She has since filled her condo with new STUFF. It's very stressful to visit. Growing up like that made me lean towards very minimal, so I really curate anything that I have in my home, that's why I normally I wouldn't feel the urge to hold on to these things.
NTA. Hide the items. They obviously didn't care about the items they received since they didn't take care of them. You value the 3 things you have and want to keep them. Don't let them emotionally manipulate you into giving them your things.
NTA, so rude of them the way they're going about it too. Do you really want to host people you can't trust?
To be honest, no I don't really want to host them but I feel a sense of obligation because I'm one of the only people with a house that is clean and orderly enough to host in!
NTA. It's completely reasonable to want to protect your sentimental heirlooms from being ruined by family members who have shown a lack of care for their own belongings. Your boundaries matter, and it's important to stand up for what you value.
OP is NTA here, she's simply doing what she must to protect the family heirlooms.