Confessions of a souvenir hoarder

I’m normally pretty ruthless when it comes to throwing stuff out. After our massive move from NZ to Canada four years ago, I swore I would never accumulate so much crap again. “You can’t take it with you when you die” is my go-to motivational chant whenever I’m tackling a clean-out. But there’s one area where I seem to have a little trouble letting go.

Behold the evidence:

In the interests of full disclosure, I have to admit that this isn’t even all of it. In a desperate attempt to cling to the memories of each holiday, I keep every postcard, ticket stub, menu, business card and map from my travels.

Yes, I am a souvenir hoarder. Although, ‘souvenir’ might be pushing it. I’m not sure anyone else would consider an airline luggage sticker a keepsake. Or a pack of Italian crackers. Or a mini pot of Philadelphia cream cheese that expired last November. Why do I keep these sorts of things? Shouldn’t I be more discerning in my collecting? Shouldn’t I throw away the probably very rancid cream cheese? Yeah, most likely. But as long as I never remove the foil, we’re all safe.

Collections are as subjective as memories. I might look a bit OCD for still keeping a bundle of receipts from my Europe trip in my wallet, but it makes me smile to remember the McDonald’s stop on a road trip from Krakow to Warsaw (wielki smak — great taste!), or the amber earrings I bought for my mum in Prague. Some are so faded I can only make out the amount — 1100 kroner, somewhere in Denmark; €9.99 in what I think was Berlin. Vague details like these transport me back in an instant. And while the ruthless part of me conjures up images of one day being buried alive in a sea of souvenir scraps, tripping over a stack of ancient in-flight magazines, breaking my hip and being discovered months later by a curious neighbour wondering about the strange smell, I just can’t quite bring myself to throw it all away.

Death by in-flight magazine?

So I guess what I really need to sort out is where to put it all. Right now my growing collection exists in an overflowing paper bag, a file folder and various envelopes stuffed in a drawer. If I could organise it a sensible way, it would seem less hoard-y, and more fun memorabilia. I know what some might suggest: scrapbooking. But I’m just not ready to embrace the S word, at least not before I’m 60. In the meantime, I’ll probably grab it all out in a while, look over it fondly while reminiscing, have no idea what to do with it and then stuff it all back into hiding, as I seem to do every few months. Until I come up with a great new plan. Or the cheese finally explodes. Whichever comes first.

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