Stuff, Part 2: No Souvenirs?

It was almost a conspiracy. Packing for a big trip, we’d think of some clever way to bring treasures back home.

It started with us trying to put most of our clothes in one suitcase, leaving the other almost empty. That eventually morphed into cramming an old soft-side bag in the suitcase. An extra bag for all the things we would buy, of course.

Then, we’d bring nothing home. Almost never.

I’m not so sure that bringing something home from a trip isn’t some sort of proof that you were actually there. Because that picture of you standing in front of the Eiffel Tower isn’t enough, you’d better buy a 3-inch replica of the tower for your mantel.

Many years ago, I bought my wife a new dress in Mexico. It was festive, colorful, and asked (very loudly), “Hey, guess where this dress came from?!”

She wore it once. That it still hangs in her closet after all these years is my little victory.

It’s completely understandable that you want something to remind of the good time you had on your trip, but what do you need? Or what can you actually use once you get home? Even, ‘what do I want to display?’ is a fair question. That’s the tricky part of buying memorabilia.

The way we overcame packing an extra bag ‘just in case’ was to get more practical: shot glasses. They’re cheap, small, and shot glasses actually get used in our house.

My most recent purchase was from Disney World. That Disney World even has shot glasses seems a tad unnatural? Yes, it is the ‘happiest place on earth’ but not because people are standing around shootin’ tequila.

Still, once in a while, I grab that Magic Kingdom and fill ‘er up. I’ve found that my personal stopping point is when “It’s a Small World” becomes “It’s a Crawl World.”

After all.

I also have a green M&M shot glass. While most shooters are 1.5 ounces, Miss Green is 3 ounces, making her a popular lady ‘round here. “Tonight, I’m dancin’ with the big girl!”

Through the years, though, acquiring shot glasses has become a little pointless. Not that it doesn’t still occasionally happen, but we’ve got a hundred of them and only a few friends that will use them with us.

I recently found a box filled with shot glasses I had forgotten we had. My wife had boxed them up and put them away. I wanted to fuss at her for putting my favorite pewter shooter from Germany in the basement, but honestly, I hadn’t missed it, so why start a fight?

About the only other memorabilia we buy anymore is a refrigerator magnet. I’m big on those. “Hey, y’all, I went to Ireland. Look! Brought back a fridge magnet!”

We were fortunate enough to be able to visit Cuba a few years ago, before the current thawing of relations were taking place. What do I have to show for it? It’s on the fridge.
(It’s entirely possible that a person could have brought back cigars and rum, but since that’s technically illegal, let’s say that did not happen.)

But you need something, right? How else will you remember your trip? That’s why tourist stores are filled will all that crap. It sells.

In the end, though, you’re just collecting stuff. And don’t we already have enough stuff? We do. Because of that, these days, about all we possess at the end of a journey are a few photos.

Our most recent trip was to Italy. It was a most memorable vacation, but we left the country empty-handed. No shot glass, no fridge magnet. Nothing.

I did buy a new pair of tennis shoes there, but since I left behind the pair I had completely blown out, I’m calling that even. Besides, I think they also sell New Balance shoes in the states. A good shoe but not exactly fine Italian leather.

On second thought, though, maybe I did souvenir-shop in Italy. We visited a small village winery and at $8 a bottle, I declared it the best value in all of Italy! I must have some! Ship me a case of this stuff, and do it now!

Cost to ship one case of cheap Italian wine: $110, more than doubling the price. So much for the ‘value’ argument. (Note to self: two-hour wine tastings are hard on your pocketbook.)

Besides, aren’t souvenirs something you keep? Wine is hardly a ‘lasting’ memory.

Not around here, anyway.

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