The Elephant Room

Posted: July 7, 2010 in Part Four, Part Three, Part Two

Dull gray.  Silvery gray.  Blue-gray.  Goldish gray.  Not gray at all.  Trunks, tusks, toenails, tails.  Everywhere.

It was a herd.  An eclectic herd so large that it needed an entire room devoted to it.  I will say that it made gift selection easy; you always knew that my mother’s mother would be delighted by any elephant paraphernalia.  (I’ll let you in on a little secret, though; she did always prefer the African elephants because of their ears.  The Asian ones just looked somewhat silly.)

You see, my family collects things.  Ridiculous, cluttery things. Here’s a small sampling from through the years:

  • Mom→Giraffes. Stephen King books.  Head vases.  Shot glasses.  Coca-Cola items.  Cookie Jars.
  • Sister→Unicorns. Holiday Barbies. International Barbies. Dragons. Wizards. Lighters. Santa Clauses.

When I was small, I liked small things like kittens and puppies.  Voilà!  I became a collector before I knew it — right down to the bedsheets.  Becoming fascinated with angels, I sat back as my family pounced on the new idea.  Oh, and I loved snow globes, which I called “shakeys.”  My grandmother seized this one before anyone else and started my collection of shakeys with angels in them. (She still contributes, in fact — every Christmas.  This is the only vestige of my “collector” days.) As I grew, I eventually collected The Little Mermaid — dolls, clothes, sheets, books, school supplies — and Elvis memorabilia.  Let’s just say my room was thoroughly decorated.

Then I moved.  I brought my things, but no one added to any of my collections anymore.  I stopped collecting, but I didn’t really notice.

When I re-entered my family’s lives after high school, I was a different person.  One does a lot of growing up between 12 and 17, and that I had.  But having not watched me grow, they picked up where they left off.  Several awkward thank-yous and an entire collection of singing Elvis ornaments later, I think they got the message:  “I’m different now.”

They have never liked the difference, I have never again “fit in,” and they have never been able to talk honestly about the obvious.  I guess my own little elephant will have to just keep following me around. (Oh, but she is an expensive little thing.)


  1. mattie hopper says:

    wow, those head vases…i’m speechless.

    no really, great post. sorry i got stuck on the head vases.

  2. katdish says:

    I’m sure those head vases would look so much better with some flowers in them. Or not. I am not a fan of collections. I have friends with hundreds of Precious Moments statues. Is it just me, or do they all pretty much look the same? But for me, it’s more about why something is of value to someone. I have keepsakes from my kids–a much loved stuff animal, hand made gifts, etc. But each item reminds me of a specific memory. When you collect simply to collect, what value does each item represent? “Oh, I bought this one from the Home Shopping Channel. The lady on the phone seemed so nice.” I’m not saying collecting is wrong, per sea. I simply don’t understand it. Also? I’m anti-crap.

  3. macayla says:

    Wow. Those head vases are seriously creepy. How did you not have terrifying nightmares?

    I collected all things giant panda for most of my childhood. I’ve ridded myself of most of the collection. I had other small ones, but with each move I’ve given more and more of that useless crap away. I’m tired of dusting meaningless stuff.

    I completed my collection of copies of “Little Women” when I bought a copy at Orchard House (Alcott’s home). No need to continue.

    The accumulation of objects irritates me now. I will discourage my kids from collecting things, as I think it teaches hoarding and greediness, neither of which are positive character traits. I’d rather teach them to save their money or spend it on worthwhile stuff like buying ducks and pigs and chickens and things for kids in other countries who need them. Actually, that’s something we want them to buy for another kid at Christmas and for their birthdays as a way to teach them to think outward during typically very self-centered events.

    I’m rambling, so I’ll go now…

  4. would you like to sell the collection of head vases?

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