Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Are You A Hoarder?

Are You a Hoarder?

Patricia L. Cummings


This morning we went grocery shopping a little later in the day than when we usually shop. We like to get there early so as to avoid all the people who drag out of bed late or have to organize children to take with them. Add to confusion of children treating the store as their personal playground, running up and down the aisles, there are the employees who are busy stocking shelves. They are in the way or the customer is in their way. Often we bypass purchasing products because we simply cannot reach them. Sometimes, we hear something amusing that makes us smile and stays with us the rest of the day.

At the end of one aisle was a middle-age couple. She said, “Why are you getting that? We have five at home." “He” said, “Well, in my opinion, you just can’t have enough. It is good to stock up.” At that, the significant other decided not to argue but I heard her say in a stage whisper, “Yes, but when does stocking up just become hoarding?”

Hoarding sounds like something dreadful, like a kind of disease for which one would seek psychiatric intervention. In my profession, I meet a lot of hoarders. These people would better be termed “collectors” and if nothing else, they have a number of collections.

The onset comes at an early age. Some people collected postage stamps on the chance they might become “valuable” someday. Children of the 1970s collected PEZ containers. Oh my, but there are many, many things to collect. More than one of anything could be called a collection. Personally, I collect fabrics as if they will stop making them tomorrow. I collect them to “have” them and find it difficult to cut them up and add them to quilts. Likewise, I collect spools of thread, different types of needles, and items made by myself AND other people.

Then again, if one lives long enough, they may collect all the family photos. Sometimes, no one even knows who is in the picture but feel they must keep it anyhow. Sometimes we unwittingly end up with collections of dishes. In my case, I have enough dishes to feed an army of hungry people. The challenge would be in getting enough food to place on the dishes.

Another type of thing, in a similar vein, are all of ceramic figurines collected by my mother which I was given directly by her, or indirectly, when she moved to a nursing home and the objects had no place to reside except for our home, since we were cleaning out the estate so the farm could be sold. They were near and dear to her and there was no way I was going to willingly give them up.

Recently I told a friend that I would like to get to the point of only having just the material goods in my home that I wanted to have and nothing else. To do that would require major downsizing. Of course, when it comes to textiles, I am hopeless in wanting to hang onto everything, especially items I have made that I feel no one would ever appreciate as much as I do.

The question remains, “Are you a hoarder?” If so, is “hoarding” a bad word for which I should now go wash my mouth out with soap for even thinking of it or reminding you of it? Needless to say, you do not have to answer me, even though I would be curious to hear your answer, and your justification for keeping collections of old jewelry, old calendars, or whatever you have an abundance of that you either bought or had foisted upon you. I prefer to think of myself as a “collector” yet the lady in the grocery store hits it right on the money, “When does “collecting” become “hoarding.” I shall leave it up to you to sort out this thought. As for me, I am headed to the nearest antique shop to see what little goodies might follow me home today. 

Whatever you do, be happy! Pat Cummings on 1-20-2014.

Patricia Cummings maintains a website "Quilter's Muse Publications" at and this blog where she posts about history, textiles, and the antics of other people!

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