Souvenirs and trinkets are not my thing. As you know, I don’t like accumulating and I don’t like clutter. Traveling really opens you up to the possibility of collecting items in the name of memories and marking the moment. A small item or two from each place that you visit can really start to add up though, and if you get into the habit of picking up a souvenir or two early in your travels it tends to stick and carry though to all of your future travels.
I have resisted. Resisted the snow globes, spoons, shot glasses, coffee cups and little statues. I have resisted the picture frames, refrigerator magnets, key chains, hats and t-shirts.
Children love souvenir shops though, so whether or not we plan on buying something we always end up walking through the shops. On one of these many tours through one of these identical cheap trinket stores, my wife and I stumbled upon something that made too much sense to resist. It satisfied the inner yearning to mark our travels with something small and next to useless, but it did not clutter up our shelves or inflict us with instant buyers remorse after purchasing it.
Figure it out yet?
Christmas tree ornaments. We began to pick up ornaments from places that we have traveled, and it has turned into a wonderful idea. Throughout the year we pick these up and pack them away without a second thought, no clutter, no dusting around them, no visual eye sores.
Every December when the time comes to decorate the Christmas tree, we break out the box of ornaments. We put on some hot chocolate and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. One by one we pull ornaments out, each one with memories and locations that were nearly forgotten about. We say the names as we look at each one and a memory inevitably follows the location. “Aruba!” I say, “Remember that place right on the beach, we could hear the waves from the room and we sat on the beach and listened to the Red Sox game!”
“Clark’s Trading Post!” my wife says, and my kids follow up with, “Scram you old Goat!”. This one might need some explaining. Clark’s is in New Hampshire, and it has a train ride that gets chased by the “Wolf man” and whenever he gets too close to the train all the passengers have to yell “Scram you old goat” at him to get him to leave. It was a lot of fun and one of those memories that gets renewed every December while we decorate the tree.
Each and every ornament comes equipped with at least one or two of these memories. We get to end our year reliving our travels, and then we start the next the same way as we take the ornaments back down and pack them up again, no mess, no clutter. Next Christmas they will be pulled out again and most likely there will be a couple more to add to the tree with a couple more memories attached to them.