Now that our grandson Colton, 5, is in preschool four days a week, my daughter Jennifer and I can spend some quality time together. It has been many years since we could do that.

In the years previous to this, we could go shopping and out to lunch, but we always had at least one child with us. We had to pick child-friendly restaurants, and when we were in a store, one of us had to be on kid duty while the other one shopped.

Please don't think I am complaining, because my grandchildren are the world to me. But it is nice to have some time with just my daughter.

The last time the two of us went out for lunch and shopping, we went to a little Greek restaurant. I had a Greek salad with warm pita bread. Yum! I could hear my grandson Conor's voice saying "Yuk!" We would have probably been at McDonald's if he were along.

After lunch, Jen and I walked a little and went into a very unusual shop.

The minute we walked inside, Jen said, "This smells like home." I knew exactly what she meant. It smelled a lot like our old house in Pennsylvania.

The shop was a consignment store for antiques. It was full of old furniture, linens, glassware, pottery and much more. The smell came from the accumulation of years of hard use. There is a very specific odor to antiques.

As we walked through the shop, Jen kept saying, "We had one of those." And it was true. Our home had been filled with old things. We didn't call them antiques because we used them regularly.

She pointed out the silver meat grinder (not automatic, of course, but with different insert plates for various-sized results), the juice squeezer, a meat hammer, a butter dish with an attached knife, and a rocking chair.

I was surprised to see the rocking chair. It was almost an exact duplicate of one that sits in my current home, right in the bay window next to the marble-topped table that used to belong to my Aunt Madaline Sweeney.

The rocker is very old. It was made sometime around the Civil War and still serves as a beloved piece of useful furniture. Sure, it has squeaks, but it looks good and attracts attention from visitors. My mom obtained the chair in the 1940s from an elderly neighbor who thought our family would appreciate it.

When we were emptying out our home in Pennsylvania in preparation for a move to Pawleys Island, S.C., in 1998, we called an antique dealer to go through the house with us and let us know the approximate value of certain pieces.

The dealer spied the rocking chair and said, "I'll be happy to take that rocker off your hands." I smiled and said, "Do you think I'm off my rocker? That rocker is going with us to the new house." The dealer was not happy.

To me, old things are important. Usually they were made better than new ones. If you check out furniture, you can tell an old piece is sturdier and more aesthetically pleasing. I guess the only exception to that rule is "stuffed" pieces. The old sofas and chairs were like instruments of torture. They were hard, lumpy and uncomfortable.

When we moved from Pawleys Island to Ocala, we didn't really have to take much furniture with us. As a matter of fact, the Florida house came complete with everything, including linens, dishes, silverware, even cleaning supplies and rolls of Scotch tape. Jim and I had some decisions to make. What would we keep and what would we give away?

The first thing we did was pack up the Florida dining room set and take it to South Carolina. We brought the old table and chairs that had come with us from the Pennsylvania house down to the Florida house. The old set is the one that my family has sat at for dinners since 1945. The table is a wonderful wooden piece that has three leaves for expansion. The chairs are nothing special, but my mom bought them and painted them at least three different colors. Jim had fun stripping the coats of paint and restoring the chairs to their original condition.

Old things remind us of our past, rekindle family memories and create a warm environment. From one old thing to her readers, preserve and protect your heritage.

If you would like to contact Dr. Smith, she can be reached at her email address: jsmith1313@cfl.rr.com