No dead person wants to be remembered for picking a good china pattern.
Seriously, you guys. Stop registering for that shit.
And I guarantee you that none of the life long memories I have of my parents will come from champagne flutes. Which is what my parents latest give away* was. Which they are giving away because THEY DON’T USE. I never, EVER recall having seen my parents drink from champagne flutes. They drink beer, or wine, or sometimes “Eddie’s”, which is a drink that really only the family understands because it is something that we inherited from Grandpa K. And nobody else is expected to ever know this, and that’s okay. THIS is what makes a memory.
And besides, if I were to take these champagne flutes, in ten, maybe fifteen years, I’d be trying to remember if they were my parents champagne flutes, or my grandparents champagne flutes, or random champagne flutes that I found at some store, at some point, and just HAD TO HAVE, all the while thinking to myself, “I will DEFINITELY use these ALL the time.”
In calmer words, those of us who are not sentimental about “things” might often be the most misunderstood.
I do save some things, but most of them probably only for a little while. The things that actually make it long-term, are few and far between, but show the heart of true sentimentalism. And I can tell you pretty much everything I still have, and I could grab it all in twenty seconds if my house started on fire.
I recently lost my last grandparent, and from four deaths I have two of my absolute favorite pictures in the world, a complete record of one of my grandfather’s WWII Navy military service, and a cookbook with my grandmother’s nearly indistinguishable German handwritten notes in the margin.
And these simple things launch me into memories. For example, of how you could never escape Grandma J without a strong, firm hug, and how she mistakenly, FOR AN AWFUL NUMBER OF YEARS, thought I was the grandchild that LOVED black olives, which I would politely choke down in front of her at Christmas dinner. Or how Grandpa J would proudly wear his Navy WWII Vet baseball hat in out in public until the day he died, and how strangers would often buy him a humbled lunch because of it. Grandpa K had a pipe with an intoxicating smell of tobacco, back when it was about flavor and enjoyment, which I can still smell to this day. And when he would start to move it around “nervously” in his mouth, you were “beating” him at checkers. Grandma K’s kitchen was TINY, but it never failed that it’s where everyone wanted to be, because it felt like home, and it smelled amazing, and you knew that by watching her cook, you were learning from an artist.
I have a blue box in my living room that I bought from the kitchen section of Target years ago. It is meant to organize recipe cards, to give you an idea of the width, and is about a foot long in length. In there I have Christmas cards from every single one of my grandparents. I have birthday cards from my parents that make me cry every time I read them, and even a little as I write this, because I have exactly what they say memorized.
Also in this box, there are a few photos. A few funeral prayer cards and programs. Notes from both of my godparents. The lyrics to a song that I sang in church growing up that, for being hardly anything of a church person, simultaneously reduces me to tears and washes me over with comfort. There is a little blue glass star, and a favorite poem, and a random photo ripped from a magazine that every time I look at means something so different that I cannot bring myself to throw it away.
You are not meant to understand these things. And I cannot explain them in a blog post. I’m not even going to attempt it, and that would be disastrously beside my point anyways. But these mean the world to me. These are things that can completely explain who I am, if you are really listening. Remnants, of seemingly nothing, that would be tossed aside if you were to ransack my house. But these tiny details have a story behind every piece. And that’s sentimentalism.
And you can’t register for that at Macy’s.
***The term “give away” refers to the fact that, even though my parents know I will refuse 99% of the things that they offer me, they still are kind enough to run it by me before it hits the Goodwill box.