Friday, September 16, 2011

#74... Avoid collecting things

A few weeks ago, my friend had a garage sale. Not only was she selling her own items, but she also had several boxes of Norman Rockwell collector plates from The Bradford Exchange that belonged to the home's previous owner. Mrs. Previous Owner had moved on, but my friend somehow got stuck with the Rockwell collection, and it certainly didn't sell for the original price. It didn't sell, period.

Sometimes I think human beings have a hidden magpie gene somewhere in our chromosomes that makes us want to collect and surround ourselves with trinkets. My own home has enough trinkets to stock a store, but a lot of them have been given to us, and we've managed to avoid investing in The Bradford Exchange's "timely treasures."

The thing about starting a collection of any sort is that everyone's tastes are different, so all those plates Mrs. Previous Owner bought held no appeal for her children -- or anyone else. And my friends at the St. Vincent de Paul Distribution Centre tell me that most young people these days don't want to inherit china or real silverware that needs to be polished. Marie and Marlene would know -- they unpack all the donations of household items that no one wants anymore. Including Rockwell plates, I'm guessing.

Tastes and trends change, so it seems that it's better not to collect stuff at all, unless it's useful. What I would like to know is how The Bradford Exchange can be so convinced of the value of its "I Love Lucy" collector's items when it mass produces them and markets them to a wide baby boomer audience -- can it guarantee that my great-grandchildren will be watching Lucy reruns when they're my age? Is there a conspiracy to keep Lucille Ball current forever? Somehow, I can't buy into that one!

So rather than having a "collection," why not be ecclectic? It's much better to surround ourselves with USEFUL things that mean something to us than to buy what The Bradford tells us is beautiful and of lasting value as an investment. Our home is definitely ecclectic, bucking the trend that everything must match. Most things are useful, but not all. Mrs. Previous Owner here had a collection of Dutch Delft plates hanging around the top of her kitchen walls, but I have little things that have been given to me -- an Aids Angel from Africa, a wheat weaving, a clock, a crucifix and a few other hangable items to fill those hooks. They're definitely not a matching set, but they mean something to me, and perhaps someday, they will mean something to someone else. But if not, no sweat. I like them, and I didn't buy any of them from The Bradford Exchange.

P.S. Looking for more Simple Suggestions? Try here.

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