When I was younger, I used buy everything and anything I thought was cool when I traveled. I would toss my worn out clothes out at the end of a trip and load my bag up with cool (sometimes crappy) trinkets and gifts for my family. During my second European backing trip, I decided maybe dolls would be something fun to collect. It would limit what I’d buy and it gave me a theme to work with. There were a few things I noticed about this though like dolls can look the same. My doll from Lithuania look like my one Poland that looks like my one from the Czech Republic. The other thing about collecting dolls is that displaying them all together is kind of creepy. Think Susan’s doll collection from Seinfeld. Also, at some point, I was too old to have a collection of dolls in my room. I’m pretty sure a display of dolls in my apartment would have scared Micah off.
When Micah and I started traveling together (and living together), we decided we need to pick something to “collect” when we traveled. It was when we were visiting his parents at Christmas 4 years ago that we discovered our “thing” – Christmas ornaments. We discovered it when we were standing in the gift shop waiting for Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede to start. Yes, you read that right. It has everything – the nativity story, a meal you eat entirely with your hands, ice skating and competitions between the north and south poles – everything but Dolly Parton. It’s something special to experience.
Anyway, we were waiting for the show to start when we spotted this beauty:
I mean look at it. Who wouldn’t buy it. There’s Jesus AND a cowboy! After that, ornaments was what we bought. A crayfish playing an upright bass in New Orleans, a model of the Opera House from Sydney and a beaded chili pepper from New Mexico. When we were at the Redwoods during spring break we bought a laser cutout of California made from a Redwood and in Venice, we picked up a ornament made of Murano glass that I love.
I really love the ornament tradition. It gives us direction when we are shopping on the road. I also LOVE LOVE LOVE decorating the tree and reminiscing about all our trips. Because the ornaments are a “us” thing, we only buy them when we travel together. When I travel alone, I try to bring back things that are unique to the place I’m visiting. It doesn’t have to be something that will last forever – just something we’ll enjoy. Olive oil from Italy, wine from France or coffee from Ethiopia.
When you travel, what do you bring back? Do you have a theme or do you just wing it?
P.S. Sorry about the crappy resolution. Darn my iPhone.