Family Mug Collection
One of my favorite family traditions is our annual vacation. My family is large and we live all over the country, so we don’t get to get together too often. Our vacations have become our way of having family reunions, getting together every year in an exotic new place. These vacations are a special part of my family’s history, and thus some sort of physical representation of the trips seemed necessary. We of course have our own memories of these trips, but the idea of something physical to display and to share with others was appealing. We take big family pictures everywhere we go, but it is practically impossible to take a picture of eight people without someone blinking, sneezing, crying, or generally ruining the picture enough that displaying it in the house is no longer an option.
Without personalized photos, we were doomed to collect touristy souvenirs. After wandering through countless tourist shops around the world – all eerily similar even continents apart – we decided that mugs were the only sensible option for our family and our distinctive needs. Shot glasses are too college; t-shirts are too tacky. Keychains cannot be easily displayed; snowglobes can be displayed but take up too much space and frankly are useless. We actually use mugs, and they do not look ridiculous if displayed in the kitchen.
Our mugs sit on four shelves right next to our coffee maker. We use them daily; they are not sacred objects but rather practical devices that serve an everyday purpose even without their added emotional value. The mug collection is ideal because it allows us to share our travels with our friends and family without being overbearing. Friends can see our collection representing our travels, ask about these places if interested, and even share these experiences with us by drinking from the mugs. The collection is easy to preserve and compact enough to display easily. And importantly, we have never had an issue finding a mug for a place we have visited; they are sold everywhere.
After years of collecting, we actually have a pretty decent and varied collection – from Denver and the Grand Canyon to Ventimiglia, Italy and Beijing, China. All the mugs display the name of the visited place, but otherwise they are incredibly varied – big and small, illustrated and plain, funny and boring. The collection is varied and in no way complete, but important because it serves as a commemoration of my family’s history in the form of objects we can actually use and appreciate.