976 elephants. That is how many Great Aunt Doris had in her collection. She had all sizes and shapes. They were made of a variety of materials. Some came from exotic locations around the globe. She had elephant everything from earrings to end tables. But isn’t 976 too much of anything? Many were simply packed away in a trunk (pun intended). What’s in your collection? What does your child collect?
Step one in having a collection is discovering what we are interested in or what we prefer. It is a valid discovery. I recall as a child being challenged to find things I uniquely enjoyed and not just parroting my older sister. Having an identified interest makes gift giving easier and more fun for others as they shop for us.
Step two is managing that collection. How do I use it? How do I incorporate it into my life and my space? Is it usable or is it just something to display and admire? What is required of me to take care of my collection?
Step three is to not broadcast your interest too loudly or loosely lest you be inundated with too much of what you love. This may cause one to reconsider their chosen item. It is okay to let family and friends know that you have enough of ______________.
Dear Great Aunt Doris lived to be 105 years old. That is a very, very, long time to collect anything. I believe she never tired of elephants. I am thankful to have inherited a single elephant bowl from her. I keep it filled with fruit on my counter and it reminds me of her.
As children grow and mature, naturally their interests will change. The Polly Pockets which were completely thrilling at age six may have no meaning to a twelve year old. The toddler who adored penguins later as a teen may find them rather boring and even smelly. Allow your child to cast off old interests and embrace new ones. You might encourage your child to find ways to share their old collectibles with others. There is a time and a season for everything. One of my sons assured me baseball cards are timeless.
I have seen adults try to start collections for children. This rarely works well as each person needs to discover for themselves where their interests lie. We also need to allow our children to decide for themselves when they are ready to move on to something new.
One more challenge with collections is the trap of discontentment. If we always think we need more of something, then we must ask if our collection is controlling us. Try a reverse collection. I love banks, but I don’t need banks. I have a few. It is enough. I routinely give banks as a new baby gift. It is sort of my signature gift. I give what I enjoy and hope they will enjoy it too. Do you have any ideas for signature gifts or reverse collecting?