Now I'm not one to go on vacation to go shopping, so my first vacation in the "buy nothing new" year wasn't too challenging, but it did make me more aware of my past vacation spending habits.
Look Familiar? These little stands seem to be everywhere in every major city in the world.
We went to several of the Smithsonians and many of the national monuments, and every single one had its own gift shop. The Smithsonians had multiple gift shops per museum, and everywhere we went these little tourist shops seemed to be full of people.
Now I have a confession to make -- in the past, I would have been one of them. I used to (as in years ago) be a little obsessed with collecting, and convinced that I needed souvenirs to remember every cool place I'd ever been. In the last few years, I've started to get away from this as I've begun to de-clutter, but I would still find myself looking for a hat pin or postcard or some small trinket to memorialize the experience.
Why do we feel that we need physical objects to help us remember fun experiences? Is it because we're afraid we'll forget them? Or because we're drawn to the novelty of something we can't buy anywhere else? Is it to show off to friends all the cool things we've done?
And then what happens to these trinkets? As I've been de-cluttering this year, I have come across several vacation souvenirs. It's probably the first time I've looked at many of them since the vacations they came from. Some of them are so random that I don't even remember where I got them.
And what about the souvenir-less vacations that I've taken? Are they any less special, do I remember them any less fondly because I didn't buy a little plastic Eiffel Tower, etc.?
Okay, so maybe I had way too long to think about this on the plane, but I'm grateful that I've come to a place where I don't feel that I need physical mementos to remind me of the special times in my life. Not that there's anything wrong with a souvenir here and there, but it's nice to feel less and less connected with objects, and more connected with the memories and experiences themselves. I think this is one of my favorite side effects of my "buy nothing new" year so far.