Stuff, Part 1: Collectibles vs. Stuff

Almost everybody collects something. It starts early, and I’m still waiting to see how it ends. Pause here for a moment, and let your memory fill in the blank:

“As a kid, I collected_____.”

Baseball cards, dolls (perhaps a specific kind of doll), coins, books, stamps, rocks, Beanie Babies… action figures, perhaps?

Later, we leave this childishness behind and move on to more grown-up toys: dishes, cars, spouses, vintage jewelry, pewter, pottery… anybody else ever collect matchbooks?

Hard to find matchbooks these days. I suppose that’s because of the perception that they promote smoking. Forget the fact that you light candles, incense, fireplaces and have an old recliner in the yard that needs burning. If you have a book of matches, you are going to go straight to the store to buy cigarettes, and we ain’t having none of that.

I’ll use our matchbook collection to get us to where we’re going by asking, where is your collection now?

Our matchbooks are in a large jar in the basement. The. Basement. That’s where we keep things like mattresses and broken chairs and doors. Doors?

As a kid, I collected coins. My collection is pretty small, and I doubt there’s much of value in it. Lots of pennies and nickels. I keep it in a vintage suitcase that has broken hinges and will not lock, and it’s… somewhere… in a room, under a bed, under a chest, in a closet. Maybe in the basement. No, probably in the basement.

Do I get it out occasionally? No. Do I have any hankering to actually check and see if I at one point stumbled onto a truly valuable coin? No. Do I share its contents with anyone? No.

Hey, I can’t even tell you where it is!

So I submit to you that at some point, depending on how you treat your collectibles, they just become stuff. And stuff tends to become clutter. And clutter is useless.

I was going brew my own beer, so I started collecting flippies. Flip-top bottles. That was 20 years ago. Still got the bottles. They hang out… say it together…”in the basement!”

We have two collections of dishes. My wife collected Jewel Tea, and I collected Currier and Ives. Neither is terribly valuable nor hard to find. Do we use them? No. Display them? Nope. Any plans to do either of those things? Nay.

So recently, we decided to (using our word) dejunkify. If these collectibles had crossed over to just “stuff” territory, let’s shed ourselves of some of it.

Let’s start with the dishes. No, forget the dishes. Her collection connects her to her grandma that collected Jewel Tea. My dishes are the dishes I grew up eating on, so let’s keep those. Besides, if we free up all that shelf space, what’s gonna go there? Can’t just have empty shelf space, right?

But, hey now, those flippies. Yeah, I can get rid of those. In fact, the journey has begun. They are now in the garage. I know because I’ve seen them everyday for the last eight months since I moved them there. So, I’m doing my part.

My wife is not.

She tried. At one point in her career an entomologist, she has an odd collection of vintage sprayers. Yeah, bug sprayers, garden sprayers. They’re shiny, made of metal. But they are in a storage room taking up space and of no use to us. Nor the rest of mankind.

But you can’t just trash them. I mean, getting rid of them from the house is one thing, but you just can’t get rid of them! They’re antiques.

Aren’t they? Maybe?

Let’s just hold on to them for now until we can find someone who wants them. Perhaps one day we’ll be in a mall somewhere, and a gentleman will just walk up to us and ask, “Hey, by any chance, do you guys have some old bugs sprayers?”

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Now, if we can just find that man…

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