My husband has collected shot glasses for years from every place he’s ever been. They are great conversation pieces, made of glass, lovely, small decor, easily transported with us in constant moves. But each time we move, the movers pack each one separately in paper. Yes, really. It makes my stomach knot. What right do I have to tell my husband he needs to get rid of them? They are his memories, his collectables.

But do we need to continue collecting them? When is enough? When does a collector get to the end? When does he/she decide to stop?

It’s not that I think shot glasses are wasteful. But I don’t think we need anymore. At this point in my life, I think digital photos, written stories and oral memories are enough. And my hubby isn’t the only one at fault here. I used to buy t-shirts from every place I traveled until my mother asked me to please stop. “Honey, I can only wear so many,” she said. The more I traveled, the more I lugged back. I wondered, “Is my niece really going to use this? Will it end up under her bed within days?” No sir, I don’t want any more souvenirs, gifts, or collectables unless I can actually “use” them. And in “use” I mean EAT.

What do you collect? Why do you collect? And what do you no longer collect?


24 responses to “Collectables

  1. Collectors help the economy I suppose so it’s good from that standpoint. I guess is done collecting when they’re ready to stop. It’s all vanity, but we all have our own vain predilections and we are the ones to decide when to stop unless our economic situation or issues of space dictate that we should stop.
    It’s a difficult call. I know what you’re saying, but I can see where your husband is coming from as well.

    Wrote By Rote

    • I know Lee. It’s the space issue with me. I hate clutter. But I don’t feel I have the right to take away things that make him happy…because I love him.

  2. The best travel souvenir a friend ever gave me was some fresh blueberries and fresh handmade taffy. It was the best gift ever: unexpected, tasty, different than what I’d had before, and completely edible. I enjoyed it and it was gone. And the memory of it is wonderful!

    I’ve collected plenty during the years, most of it gone now. Ultimately, what we collect is nothing more than (like your husband’s) glass, or fabric, plastic, ceramic, wood. It just ends up being “stuff” that we lug around from house to house, dust, insure, re-arrange, pay hard earned money for, worry that someone will break it, steal it… all that energy, time and expended for an object.

    I started collecting toy stuffed bears (gave them to a young girl), Precious Moments figurines (only have two), and stuff I don’t even remember anymore as I got rid of them long ago–I think of the money I’ve wasted on “stuff”! Life is too short to drag all sorts of posessions along with us. I’d say enough is enough when you look at your “treasure” and realize it’s nothing more than an object.

    What I’m collecting right now: nothing. (headed to the thrift shop today to drop off another load).

    • Joy, you made me laugh as you head off to the thrift store. You sound like my mom. We’ve given her so much stuff over the years and now she’s giving it back to us to unclutter her house. You had me with the taffy! What a yummy gift!

      • Glad you got some laughs! Hope you are doing well these days! yeah, the taffy was really fresh, none of that hard, dried stuff you find now. And this didn’t stick to my teeth either. It was wonderful!

  3. My aunt collected thimbles. I used to buy her a new set of 12 every year for Christmas. One year they were birds, another year dogs, another year trees. This went on for at least ten years. Finally she said to me, “Enough. Your being here for Christmas is all I want.” That was my wakeup call that the important thing was family – which was the greatest present of all.

  4. ah, buggie-bear, you have hit the head on the nail—ouch! i am (still) giving loads of rescued items..having no vehicle, i collect very little; yet find more things which do not need to make a home out of my nest..
    .one Amish store keeper just thanked me profusely for my humble gifts of candles, vases and plain black shoes, plus a small mountain of sewing goods, cloth remnants etc..they have the man-power/woman power to repair, re-purpose all these…and to see their faces when they find all these crayons and school supplies i have carted for —
    that time is here now, i still keep a few of my ancestral french small album of old photos–backed up on disks as well..
    must give credit to husband—who said upon last move ” could you find something to collect that is LIGHTER than BOOKS???” down to 2 bookshelves and grunting/moaning..

    • @ Nadine! My mom says the same thing. Every time she goes to drop things off at the thrift store she finds something else she thinks one of her kids might need. (And she’s usually right.) I’m trying to get my husband down to 2 bookshelves. (He really liked your comment. :)–I’m down to one, he’s down to 4.) My trick is once I read a book I try to give it to the person that jumped into my head as I was reading it but my husband likes to keep his. I would, but there are always so many more coming in that I always want to read! Augh, life. So complicated, so fun.
      I loved the story about the Amish store. They are so appreciative. I love that. Thanks for reading! I always love hearing your two cents worth!

  5. I loved the picture of the shot glasses, why don’t frame that as the memory.
    Next time you move have hubby pack and unpack the treasured glasses, not the moveres.

    • @ Claudia! You’re so wise. That’s a GREAT idea! LOL! And I really like the idea of framing the shot of the shot glasses. How clever!

      @Hope–oh, what a wonderful message, woman! And so true. I think the more you travel, the more that comes to light because it’s simply too much trouble! It makes my heart sing to hear such happiness in your voice. Much love to you and Wes in Korea! I am so glad to hear you are liking it so much!

      @Lightlycrunchy—I love this idea. And would be so much easier to pack up and move with. Now the hard part….running it by him! 🙂
      Wish me luck. My mother says sometimes it’s just a waiting game. Folks will eventually be ready to get rid of things in their own time, you just have to wait. Not so easy.

      @Foottrackerluvya—Gotta love ebay! 🙂 Ten at a time on display sure would be a lot easier to dust, that’s for sure.

      @ Bridget–Irish pottery sounds lovely but not so easy to move. But you aren’t moving much anymore so that makes a difference. I even asked him why can’t he store some of this stuff at his parents until we stop moving so much, but he said they are trying to clean out their own house. Hmmm….what does that tell you? They’ve reached the point of declutter. I have hope he will eventually too.

      @Becky Fowler—Thank you so much for this. This was so helpful to me. Helping me be patient and try to work together and especially the ideas of how to use them for useful matters! A big thank you!

      @ Aveena– “Perhaps he can go through the collection and get rid of ones that aren’t sentimental to him.” This would be extremely helpful to me since I’m the one looking around at the clutter and feeling overwhelmed and helpless, but he doesn’t feel this way since it’s his collection. But I think you’re right. A collection should have a lot of thought put into it and be something that shows who you are and brings you much joy. I enjoyed hearing about the Bundt pans. 🙂

  6. Jennifer,
    You are so right…..when is it enough? We got to that point and asked ourselves that same question about 2 years ago. So we started throwing things out and donating to goodwill. (We also had a huge garage sale) Now we have just what we need and only a select few items that are sentimental that we kept. When we used to go on vacations we would buy souvenirs but now our souvenirs are our pictures 🙂
    As far as collecting goes, my husband has never collected anything, but I used to collect (all) things strawberry for my kitchen, I no longer do that and my kitchen is black and white now. (Very simple)
    Living in Korea and traveling to Thailand and others places over here has really made us evaluate our lives and the way we live. We ALL (Americans) live with too much and we need so much less! We are less stressed than we have been in years, our marriage is better than it has been in years. And for myself as an individual, I have found love and life inside me that I didn’t even know was there. I’m doing things that I never dreamed I would do before…….all because we decided to live with less, but in reality it is giving us the ability to live life with so much more!

  7. I’ve collected different things over the years, but have spent the last few decluttering. I don’t collect anything at the moment, but my husband has a large collection of antique decoys that sit around the house in various spots and require dusting. I’d love to pare those down, but don’t think it’s going to happen.

    What if you took a nice photo of each glass against the same background each time and had a photo book made at Costco or someplace similar?

  8. LOL, I use to buy a lot of “unusable” souvenirs too when traveling….until my house became a mess and I felt like it takes hours to organize things around.

    As for the shot glasses….may be only have like 10 out for display at a time? (and store the rest away in a garage, then eventually secretly sell them online at ebay? =X jk )

  9. I collect old Irish pottery…because I like it. I’m with you on holiday pressies…foodie gifts every time…please!

  10. This one is tough because we can’t really force other people to share our values. Even if you are both committed to zero waste, that may mean different things to each of you. I’d probably try to find a way to display *and* USE those shot glasses so they move from “wasteful thing to pack/repack” to being something you and your husband actively enjoy. I’d bring it up to him from this aspect and come up with a solution together (perhaps build a shelf from reclaimed wood?).

    I did notice you say it’s “his” collection, but then ask “do we need to continue collecting them?” So if it’s something he loves, work together to make it work. It may be that this approach will lead him to realize that paring down the collection may be best…or that you realize it’s truly meaningful to him.

    Besides actual shots, you can use shot glasses for: serving chilled soups to a crowd, mini-cheesecakes and other small desserts for your next backyard cookout, hold dip for veggies (won’t run all over the plate), measure salad dressing at the table for individual servings, pinch bowls for cooking, bud vases, rooting plant cuttings, and, when all else fails, there’s always “drinking chess”:

    I have a T-shirt collection too! A few years back, I pared down to one diaper box full up in the attic. I am slowly parceling them out to the children. Currently, the 6yo wears the smaller ones as nightshirts. 🙂

  11. I finally got around to reading this! It’s funny you talk about collecting because I have a few family members that just collect and don’t know where to stop. I think it’s perfectly fine to have a hobby, but there does have to be a line at some point. Perhaps he can go through the collection and get rid of ones that aren’t sentimental to him.

    I collect a few things, but I have high expectations. I don’t care for the cheap baubles, a collection to me is something you work towards and collect uncommon/rare items that aren’t found everyday. That way my collection stays small, means more because of how I found it, and really shows who I am as a person!

    I love to collect Bundt pans, most from Nordic-Ware, though I’d rather buy them unexpectantly, like at a thrift shop or mom&pop shop, that’s part of the fun!

  12. Kristin West

    Breakables can be wrapped in clothes that you’d be bringing anyway (t-shirts work great) instead of paper.

    • Good idea Kristin! And they’re so small I could wrap multiple ones in one shirt. Now to fight with the packers…..they insist on packing everything “for insurance reasons.” But if I already have them packed…..

  13. I was planning to comment when I first saw this post but later… kids, and kids, and more kid, and husband and his surgery… and finally I feel like I’m catching up, but not quite as these days I sleep a lot during the day, and I’m enjoying it a LOT.
    I used to collect perfumes bottles when I was a teenager. There was a time when my mom or my sister started bringing me bottles from their friends as everybody knew about my collection. Some of those were cheap perfumes and some where SUPER expensive. I had them displayed on the shelf in my room but at some point I run of space… and then I left to college and one day I just packed all those bottles and took them to the dump not even thinking about years I had spent collecting them. When my sister and my mom saw what I had just done they were SO UPSET.
    When I look back I am actually in awe how easy it was for me to get rid of this collection. Sometimes I regret it but more often I don’t 😉

  14. Mom Photographer—my mom always says we go through phases in life. Something that may have been very important before suddenly isn’t. Those bottles just weren’t as important to you as before, you’d found something new (the camera maybe? to occupy your time.) I found it intersting that your mom and sister were the ones upset!

  15. Hey, I came across your blog doing a search on wordpress. really like your page! especially this post; decided to add you so I can stay updated on you! Check out my wordpress blog too, its basically on glassware, hello Kitty and collectibles!

  16. I try not to collect anything (as much as possible) and am a stickler for that saying “if you have not used it in over a year, donate it”.

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