We are collectors of treasures.
Over the years, the treasures have certainly changed and the value of the treasures have varied greatly, but the impact that the act and art of collecting has had on us has not.
Does the word evoke a childhood memory for you? We hope so.
I remember collecting gum wrappers to make folded paper chains. I remember that my next door neighbor had an impressive collection of trolls or wishniks as we called them way back when. I was so jealous. My mother collected blue glass. My great aunt collected miniature pitchers.
There is something comforting, grounding, identifying in our collections. I value collections because of their power to connect.
My current favorite thing to collect is creek glass and weathered pottery pieces from the beds around our cabin in Virginia.
As you can see, I am pretty good at it. And so is the rest of my family. We are what you might call creek glass addicts. Once we start hunting, we cannot stop. You would think that this stuff was worth something to someone other than us. But herein lies the mystery of collecting: It has value because we assign it value.
It's all about the memory we are making together while we are collecting. It's about the thrill of the hunt. It's always about the thrill of the hunt.
Sometimes the treasure is obvious.
Sometimes it is not.
But it all matters.
Because when I am dead and gone, my grandchildren will be telling their children about how they used to go creek glass hunting with their crazy grandmother. Then they will--if they are anything like I am--retrieve their jar of treasures from some closet shelf. They will pour those treasures out and relive the good ol' days.
I say to go ahead and collect things you find on walks.
I collect salt and pepper shakers. I prefer the vintage ones, but I have some really fun new ones, too. I'm not really sure how the collection started, but I now have 79 sets, and I really wish I didn't know that. I, too, think the thrill of having a collection is the hunt. But once my collection was noted by gift givers, it started to grow; and now, I really do not need to hunt for any more. I do love that my collection has become an interesting focal piece in my kitchen.
Two collection memories I have involve my son, Nate. He loved the hunt. At the beach, he was the resident shark tooth hunter. He would end a week at the beach with quite a number of teeth. The rest of us were lucky if we found one without help from Nate.
My second collection story is quite the memory. Do you know those salt and pepper packs that come in the silverware packets you get at a fast food joint? Well, at school, Nate noticed that no one ever used them because there were salt and pepper shakers on the table. So he started collecting them from the garbage on his lunch table. He would just toss them in his lunchbox. Soon the entire class got involved. It became a class project to contribute to Nate's collection. At the end of the year, he had a gigantic ziplock bag of salt and pepper packets.
Since the accident, it's one of the memories that makes me laugh out loud. Everyone needs a bag of salt and pepper to brighten their day . . . or flavor their food.
Collections begin almost on accident, discovered loves that catch your eye when you least expect them. An item beckons you closer, inviting you to bring one home, then two, and then you start to wonder where your shelf space ran away to! Collections speak to who you are and what you value. For me, my collections speak to the past: vintage clothes and cameras. The weight of their stories intrigues me. The rustle of 50s dresses and the sheer solidness of a 30-year-old camera delights me.
I didn't set out to start a collection. It seems like the collections found me. They became my treasure hunt.
One day I sent a picture of my recently acquired, especially grand camera haul to a friend of mine. He informed me that he had seen those exact cameras the day before, and he left them because he knew I would go in and buy them. It thoroughly amuses me how once people attach you to your collection, they think of those items in terms to you, adding to your collection or simply leaving them there for you to find!
Since our mission is to inspire others to make the memories and tell the stories, it is your turn now. What do you collect? What does your collection say about who you are and what you value? What stories do they tell? What childhood memory do you attach to the word collection.
We'd love to hear your collection stories. You can post them in the comments, on Facebook, or email them to us. Most importantly, be your family storyteller and share them with the next generation.