My mother in law loves meerkats – at the moment; before that it was owls, and before that it was kittens/cats. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with the infatuation; I just cringe because I know it’s going to mean trying to find ornaments, bookmarks, jewellery and a whole range of ‘collectibles’ (except cuddly toys which she loathes) in her chosen favourites shape for every birthday, Christmas and anniversary to come.
She’s a lovely old dear to me these days – my mother in law, not the meerkats – and so, with this new peace having been reached, I’m keen to facilitate it with the required offerings that ancient peacemakers used to supply.
Of course in our case there’s no actual ‘spoils of war’ to liberate and give to her; so I have no choice but to acquiesce to demands for a handmade card for mother’s day and a meerkat inspired gift. Thank God it’s accepted that doing a 3D decoupage card in meerkats was going to be utterly impossible and so a standard 3D type is enough.
But here I have to wonder; my mother in law isn’t alone in her all consuming adoration of a single item. I know someone that collects elephants, another frogs. Still someone else is in love with all things whale orientated and myself and my daughter adore wolves. Okay we’re not obsessed with collecting them, but a lot of people are.
So what causes this? What part of some people’s psyche says to them “you love frogs, so go collect everything you can find that has a frog on it or is frog shaped”?
Of course it’s not always the person that likes something that’s the ‘mad collector’, sometimes it’s the people around them. For instance when I first met my husband I told my in-laws that I liked dolphins. I did, I still do; but I wasn’t prepared for what happened next – I got dolphins for birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas....you name a gift giving occasion and I got a dolphin.
Even now, twenty odd years later and after telling them repeatedly that I don’t want any more dolphin stuff, I still get them occasionally (usually on my wedding anniversary). I also have about five boxes of dolphins that I will be ‘recycling’ at the local charity shop soon, even though I got rid of loads the last time we moved. These days just the world "dolphin" makes me develop a nervous tic.
It’s not just collectibles either; my husband mentioned to his parents when he was in his teens (he’s fifty-one now) that he happened to like Bombay Mix (a spicy mix of little biscuits). He’s been getting a packet every Christmas and birthday ever since – even this Christmas just passed.
Of course he’s told them many, many times over the years that he’s not that fond of them any more; that he can’t really eat spicy food because of his stomach these days (and it's like a vindaloo in a packet) and yet one is still there, like a fiery timebomb, as every gift giving occasion rolls around - though admittedly he is spared them on our anniversary.
Now if someone wants to collect a certain thing; whether it’s thimbles or cuddly bunnies (stuffed, not real) then of course that’s up to them; it doesn’t matter whether they can actually get out of their front door or not because of the wall of camel shaped draught excluders barring their way, or whether the loo is blocked with limited edition coins.
However, please, if someone mentions to you that they like dry roasted peanuts, you don’t have to create a world shortage to show them you care. If they tell you that they find hippos cute, you don’t have to buy every hippo related item – from woolly hats to ironing board covers – to prove you think they’re the best person ever.
Occasionally just saying “I love you” or “you’re brilliant” is enough, and much more welcomed than crushing them to death under two hundred weight of cuddly donkeys.
This is Simi, thanks for reading.......