The Cost of Souvenirs
“Souvenirs are perishable; fortunately, memories are not” – Susan Spano
Last weekend, Jeanine and I cleaned the garage. We still can’t get two cars in the two-car garage, but it’s a two-part project to be continued this weekend. We did end up with a carload of “stuff” to take to Goodwill. As we were loading the Volvo, Jeanine noted there was enough merchandise for a garage sale. The saying goes, “Never say never.” But I’m N-E-V-E-R having another garage sale in my lifetime. I belong to the Suze Orman school of thought on this topic. Donate and take the tax deduction.
She writes, “Financially speaking, I can’t make any sense out of garage sales. You have to invest a lot of time to hold one, when you could simply take all your unwanted stuff down to the local charity (or even ask them to come cart it away for you) and claim the donation as a tax deduction. Do you really want to spend a weekend holding a garage sale-with no guarantee you will clear out everything you don’t want-when you can spend an hour or two gathering up your stuff and making a donation whose tax value will likely exceed the value of your garage sale’s proceeds?” In less than 20 minutes, I was there and back (with receipt in hand) and the garage is one step closer to housing the Volvo.
One of the items that didn’t get carted off to Goodwill was the piece of pottery pictured above. Jeanine started to put it in the pile and I said, “You’ve got be kidding me.” It’s not that I love the bowl… after all; it does have a picture of a moose on it. Rather, it represents something that Jeanine just had to buy to commemorate our summer trip to Jackson Hole in 2005.
I live by the motto of Jeanine’s ex-girlfriend (now her best friend — it’s a lesbian thing, trust me, straight people can’t relate to this one). Debbie is around for Jeanine but I get to benefit from her quippish observations that I steal and elevate as rules to live by. She’s especially helpful when it comes to anything related to fashion and decor. Debbie says, “Most things purchased on vacation don’t translate once they are home.” In other words, the Hawaiian shirt bought in Honolulu doesn’t make sense back in Topeka and the trinket from Costa Rica looks silly sitting on the dresser in Danbury.
So… whenever we are traveling and Jeanine has the urge to purchase a memory, I remind her of the Debbie rule. The moose bowl was one such item and even though we were in our woodsy mode inspired by the views of the Grand Tetons, I knew for sure that it wasn’t going to “translate” back home in Newport. But $69 later, Jeanine was having the bowl boxed up in the gift shop.
We never argue about money. We do disagree from time to time. Mostly it stems from these types of purchases. In my opinion, it’s not worth a fight or even a discussion… rather, it’s easier to just let Jeanine be Jeanine. After all, she was being sentimental by wanting something to cherish our vacation. I would never want to squash this romantic expression. For this reason, I probably even offered to buy the bowl. I don’t quite remember.
But buying the bowl and getting rid of the bowl are two different things. We are going to enjoy that damn bowl forever! It’s a matter of principle. The bowl is back in the house looking silly as ever.
Does anyone have any souvenir regrets they want to share? I’m always looking for examples to build my “it doesn’t translate” case.