December 15th is Cat Herders Day. This invent-a-holiday recognizes people who have kids whose lives are so out of control it’s like they’re herding cats.
(cc) tanakawho, Creative Commons, used under a ShareAlike License
When I first heard of this “holiday”, my brain twisted the word herding into hoarding, a word association that would cause psychologists to scribble something into their notebooks. Of course, a reasonable association would have been remembering my five-year-old twins run opposite directions in the parking lot on Saturday, but my mind is not logical. I thought of hoarding, which made me think of the clutter in my house.
My husband collects cheap things. I’m not sure if I should include myself in this categorization. If something’s cheap, he’ll take ten. Or more. Even if we don’t need any.
Last week, he came home with one of his deals.
“I got you something,” he said. Visions of a one-night-solo-stay in a boutique hotel danced in my head.
I looked up from Twitter as he dropped the box in front of me. I peeked through the flap and spied hundreds of individually-packaged marmalade jams, enough to power Denny’s through a month of burnt toast servings.
“Marmalade? What are we going to do with this?”
“Eat it,” he said. “On toast.”
“I hate marmalade.”
“But it was only five bucks.”
And therein lies his theory of accumulating things. If it’s a good deal, we need lots.
My daughter seems to have inherited this penchant for low-grade hoarding. She covets her “collections.” They range from rocks and leaves, to stuffed animals and cut-out paper hearts. Last year she even tried to collect snow. She’s like a magpie; anything shiny is slated to a lifetime in a plastic container. Half of our Tupperware containers have gone AWOL because they’re housing her collection du jour.
I seem to have a thing for collectors. Maybe it’s because I’m a failed collector.
I tried it once myself. During one long week of my childhood, I collected nail clippings. Then someone wisely told me it was gross, so I threw out my collection in a fit of embarrassment. After that, the only things I saved were letters. And a few years ago, I gave those back to the writers. I figured it was a nice flashback to all the guys my pen pals had crushes on. Nothing like a window into your life at the age of thirteen to realize how far you’ve come. Or not.
(cc) Richard, Creative Commons, used under a ShareAlike License
Maybe most collections are embarrassing. Or should be. But maybe they’re our security too. Our way of exerting control in a world where we feel not only like we’re herding cats on a daily basis, but also like we’re blindfolded and on rollerskates.