Here and There

As I see it, I am an accumulator, not a collector. Collectors go to estate sales, flea markets, and craft fairs hunting for great finds to add to their collections. They consult price guides, watch programs like Antiques Road Show, and go online to stay knowledgeable about what is popular. Accumulators stay put, receive whatever comes in through the doors, and fail to pay attention to how stuff can gradually increase to a noticeable level.

The type of objects both collectors and accumulators gather have no bounds. From postage stamps to antique tractors, anything can pile up.

The collector's interest/obsession naturally grows and he/she feeds it. The accumulator gets used to the situation and accepts the narrowing storage space as the new normal. No matter the conditions of the acquisition, there can be too much of any good thing.

An innocent starter for this "growing" problem can be trips and vacations. We want to take home a souvenir from our enjoyable experience, and whatever form that takes can be a seed.

Once, years ago, we visited the Patton Museum at Fort Knox. The cheapest item we saw in the reception area showcase was a two-inch ceramic bell with the place imprinted. I like bells, so I paid and put it in my purse. We drove on through the bluegrass horse farms, and at a rest stop shop was a one-inch gold (colored) bell with a tiny racehorse balanced on top. The girls chimed, "Oh, Mom, we have to get this bell!" You can guess the rest of the story. Decades later, I was able to shift the bells on their wide shelf to accommodate yet another bell that said: "Happy Retirement" to stand and collect dust among the multiplied number of bells that noted all sorts of "stops" along the way.

I know a person who has always liked chickens. She had chickens for pets when she was little and she enjoyed tending to them later on. As a result, ceramic chickens graced her display cabinet and a pair of plates with painted chickens decorated her kitchen wall. Friends and family picked up on all that, and one day she was presented with a full-grown Barred Plymouth Rock hen and rooster prepared by the taxidermist to stand permanently in her house.

We need to be careful what we allow ourselves to collect or accumulate. The objects can get the upper hand, and getting rid of them can be a real problem. We may become more and more attached to what we have for sentimental reasons, so we are to blame. Also, we hate to dispose of something given to us with great pleasure from the giver, as it would make us appear ungrateful and maybe even damage relationships. We are stuck with managing more than we bargained for.