Years ago, I went shopping with my mother searching for the perfect water pitcher for some holiday dinner that I was hosting (I did that long, long ago, before I learned not to volunteer to host). My mother, also known as Field Marshall Van Emeline, advised me, “Gail, you’ll spend the first half of your life trying to accumulate things and the second half trying to get rid of them. You don’t need the perfect water pitcher, who cares?” She earned her nickname from my brother David because of her German heritage and she liked to give orders, expecting immediate obedience, and she relished the idea of my brothers and me marching about. She was in her sixties, I was in my thirties, and I enjoyed defying her, so I didn’t listen.
Fast forward to present day, I now have eight “perfect” pitchers, fifteen “perfect” platters, and eight “perfect” sets of dishes. I also have a few collections, like sand dollars and shells (reminiscent of my beach bum days in Florida), thimbles from every country Tom and I visited (except Cambodia, where I saw no trinkets), and so many books that I could start my own library extension. When I couldn’t locate a thimble to buy, I opted for ceramic bells, so I have a few of those, too. (But not from Cambodia.)
I’ve tried to give my perfect collections away, but nobody wants any of them, which I find shocking! After all, who wouldn’t want a matching set of hurricane lamps or a cutting board in the shape of Idaho or a whole set of Philippine beer bottles that were re-crafted into wine glasses?
The Field Marshall was correct, dang it all, and I find myself offering her advice to my kids. In the meantime, who wants a few perfectly good sets of cheese knives?
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