Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care, and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child with sensory processing disorder. Have fun!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Collectors

I have alternately been convicted by, and fascinated with, collections. I have to admit that I have had several collections throughout my life. What do I do with all those stamp collection books I worked on so diligently when I was younger? And all of the books that have multiplied since I was first introduced to the joy of reading. The Little House series is sadly falling apart but I just can’t throw any of them away. Even my favorite picture books are still there, mixed among the newer favorites that came from those great book club points during my teaching days. About twice a year I decide I really need to go through them and purge. That goes well until I doubt myself. I start to think,: Well, this one can be used when I teach folk tales. And this one makes for a great story starter. There are also the books that were favorites of each child, or given by a special person. They really should be saved for the grandkids, right? In the end, I only ever part with half a dozen each go-round.

My husband says he is never moving my book collection again; we either need to stay in this home til we die or I need to part with the books. He has also said he’s never moving my collection of maternity clothes and that wish has come true; I got rid of them 6 years ago. After 5 pregnancies they were pretty out-of-style and well-used anyway. Those oversized clothes we used to wear to hide our bellies have been replaced by tight clothing that accentuates the bump. Even the consignment shop didn’t want my clothes. But that’s not where this was supposed to be heading.

Collections. I can remember going to a mother/daughter banquet when I was younger where tables had been set up all around the room displaying various collections owned by women in the church. I was fascinated by the variety in the displays as well as the personal stories that went along with many individual pieces in a person’s collection. I wanted to start all sorts of collections.

Through the years I’ve met people who collect all variety of objects. I have an aunt who collects salt and pepper shakers. She just received a new one at our Christmas gathering; a cute little baseball glove with a ball resting in it. I know someone else who collects teapots. My grandmother collects glass shoes. My father built her a display in the shell of a doorless closet. Complete with glass shelves and lights it was beautiful as well as functional. Except for all of the dusting. When she moved in with us, her apartment was designed with a space for the whole display. Once when The King’s Strings was booked to play out-of-state, we were invited to the home of the couple that had invited us to their venue. Their house was beautifully decorated with what must have been every Buyer’s Choice caroler that had ever been made. It was a little scary visiting that home with six children but we survived and so did the dolls.

It’s not that I don’t think people should have collections. It’s just that I go through periods of time when I look at my own collections and wonder if it was money better spent somewhere else. As we all know, there are people who would love to have some clothes on their backs, food for their mouths or four walls and a roof. Or maybe the space to store them could be better used. If I removed all the books from my house I could probably fit another half dozen children in here. And think of how much cleaner my house would be if I didn’t need to clean around the things I’ve collected. I could certainly do without the added collection of dust bunnies.

But I can’t do it. I have gotten rid of some of my smaller collections. The books, however, are staying. At least for now. And in a tied position with the books is my doll collection. My grandmother started this collection for me in 1974. She took a trip through several European countries and brought back a doll from each country she visited. I wasn’t old enough to appreciate the gift (go ahead, do the math), so my mom labeled each doll with my grandmother’s name, the year, and the country from which the doll came. From that time on, whenever we hear of someone visiting another country, be it returning to one's native country, traveling as a tourist, moving as a missionary, or even working for the United Nations, we send along a little extra cash and the request for a native doll. That small starter set my grandmother brought home has now become a collection of over 50 dolls from more than 40 countries.

At some point my dad built a display case for my collection. Being the perfectionist that he is, he designed it to match my white bedroom set, complete with painted gold trim. These days the dolls are stuffed in there a bit tighter than they used to be and it resides in Mariana’s room with the rest of the matching bedroom set. The collection is hers now, too, but I still consider it at least partially mine.

I used to use the excuse of cleaning the case just so I could take the dolls out, admire them, and reminisce about the people who gave them to me. One year I decided to research each country’s flag so I pulled out the World Book Encyclopedia (google was far from being created) and painstakingly drew each flag on a rectangular piece of paper. A toothpick taped to each flag completed my project. It was impressive. Laminated, even. But alas, only one lone flag has survived. Yeah, Switzerland!

Well, lest this go on too long, let me get to the point. This post is actually a paid political announcement. Last January I decided to call the Simpson Public Library to see if they'd be interested in our collection for their entranceway glass display. The woman in charge told me that it sounded like a great idea and since it was so unique she was going to bypass the usual waiting list and put me right in the schedule - for January 2011. I told Mariana on the way over to the library today that this had been on the calendar for so long I was afraid I had the wrong day. But we didn't and a portion of the collection is now there for all to see. If you're in the area, go have a look. You'll make me feel better, knowing that my collection is worthwhile to someone else.

And if you're traveling beyond central PA, let me know. I have a few dollars and a request to send along with you.

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