Junque Juggling

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Yesterday, there was an indoor sale and silent auction in our small town. Since it’s been a long, cold winter, and doesn’t look like spring is coming any time soon, I jumped at the chance to get my junque fix. I am kind of a Hector the Collector. My friends have told me that they like coming to my house just to look at all my junque. And that is weird, because a few years back I felt like I purged a lot of my stuff, and the house seemed a bit bare to me. But if I were making a fair analysis of the size of my collection of stuff, I guess I’d have to say it is sort of a large menagerie.

Over the years, I have taken ownership of many things that belonged to my family. Some of these things are functional items that I use on a daily basis. Others fall into the “fancy antique” category, that are stowed away in china cabinets, cedar chests, and on shelves, being kept safe from the swooshing tail of a mischievous cat. Some of them have great sentimental value to me. I have my mom’s dress form, two of her mink stoles, her engagement and wedding rings, and even the last purse she carried on a regular basis. I have scads of old photographs, some showing relatives I can’t even name. I have both my mom’s and my grandma’s sets of china and crystal. I have my parents’ bed frame, my grandma’s dressers, and the dresser my brother and I shared when we were very young. I have my parents’ cedar chest, filled with baby outfits, blankets, and my first stuffed animal. I have one of my dad’s pipes, and his tobacco pouch.

I’m also a garage sale nut, so I’ve accumulated many more things that aren’t even my own family’s antiques. I love collecting unique little antique thingamabobbers. So what if I bring home one more set of teacups? And you can never have enough hand crocheted hot pads. I’ve started hanging them on my kitchen walls, and I still have a lot of space. And you do need quite a few vintage Pyrex casserole dishes at Thanksgiving, don’t you? And my friends covet my collection of antique games like Go to the Head of the Class, Aggravation, Pachesi, Scrabble, Bingo and Checkers (with real wooden checkers!) I’ve joked about opening my house as the BB Emporium and Cat House, and just letting folks come in and look at all the stuff.

The tricky part is that I don’t have any kids to leave all of this memorabilia and merchandise to when I go. Nope, it will likely be one of those sad estate sales, where we’ve all been, poking through someone’s belongings in a creepy, but greedy sort of way, wondering why the family didn’t want any of this great stuff that obviously meant something to grandma or she wouldn’t have kept all of it all these years. So every so often I go through this great debate in my head, wondering if I shouldn’t find good homes for some of these items before they’re spread on my front lawn for the highest bidders. Can I part with some of these things? Are they doing me any good? Do I use them? Would I be heartbroken after selling them off or giving them away? I do have a garage sale every year, and find myself selling many of the things I’ve bought at garage sales in the past, deciding they didn’t really need to be part of my collection. I try to keep a balance of acquired junque, but I’m more careful about putting a price sticker on the family heirlooms.

I have friends who are of the mindset that you shouldn’t hang onto anything you don’t really need or use regularly. Minimalists. Purgers. I’ve tried, and at the time of my divorce, was sort of successful at purging some. But I’ll be honest with you…there are several items I’ve gotten rid of in the last few years that I really regret giving up. Not that I’d be using those items, but just having them in my possession. The comfort in seeing them in their usual places. The occasional fondling of said items. The chance to tell the story of those items to friends who admire them, or are curious as to what they are.

One of these purger friends recently suggested I sell off the items I’m not using, and use the money to go on a trip, or do something I want to do. She explained that the old stuff isn’t doing me much good sitting there, and after I go, it will all go, too, since I have no one to leave it to. For a minute, I agreed with her. I could imagine unloading a lot of the things that I don’t regularly fondle or admire, and using that money to redo my bathroom, or go on a cruise. And maybe I could do that one day. It’s just not going to be today. Today I might open up that cedar chest and see if I can still get that old stuffed dog to squeak.  

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