The New Domesticity: “It’s for My Collection!”
Perhaps it was the “Berry Good” strawberry scent. Or maybe it was the “Scooper Dooper” chocolate ice cream cone that did it. I’m not quite sure which variety was officially the gateway sticker, but once I discovered the world of Scratch-N-Sniff, there was no turning back. Really, I have Mrs. Harrington to thank. Our beloved Minnehaha Elementary School teacher embellished every worksheet we submitted, and we couldn’t wait to get our papers back. Perhaps we’d get the Scratch-N-Sniff “Hot Stuff” pizza sticker on our math drill or the “Poppin’ Good” popcorn kernel on a spelling page. It didn’t matter the flavor; we merrily scratched and sniffed our way toward a successful first grade education.
As the wonderful world of stickers opened up to my impressionable young self, it seemed only natural to begin a sticker collection. I’m not sure if most girls’ sticker collections of the 1980s followed the same “pattern,” but I simply stuck those stickers willy-nilly across blank pages of my spiral bound album. From Cabbage Patch Kids and iridescent rainbows to Strawberry Shortcake and puffy plastic hearts, I became a proud collector. It was indeed a thing of beauty to turn the pages of my album and admire the colors, scents, and googly eyes lovingly gathered therein.
One doesn’t have to spend much time among children to notice their affinity for building collections. In many ways, collections are an expression of the child. They speak to their interests, personality, and desire to successfully build something of their very own, whether it’s collecting rocks, match-box cars, or Legos. While preparing this article, I happened to bump into neighbors at our local wetlands trail. The young boys were eager to show me their finds. The four-year-old withdrew a prized stick from the recesses of his bike’s handlebars and announced, “It’s for my collection!” I learned that their nature collection included birds’ nests, a beehive (and no doubt many, many sticks and feathers and rocks).
Collections aren’t just for children, of course. As adults, our collections take on a more purposeful, intentional direction. I no longer collect stickers, but I do collect books. Not only do I enjoy the story tucked within the book’s pages, I enjoy the book itself. Aesthetics are an important part of my reading experience, and I love the feel of a vintage cloth binding, the heavier-stock pages bearing the imprint of the text, and the unmistakable smell of ink. (If it happens to have a dated cursive inscription, all the better!) Aside from being a fun and hands-on hobby, building collections has multiple benefits.
To read the rest of this article, pick up a copy of the March 2020 issue at any of these locations, or view the digital archive copy below.