Is It Worth Collecting “Chachkas”?

The word “chachka” is a Yiddish word meaning small trinket. Many of us collect something. My mother collected dolls, Lladros, plates, fairies and clowns. My father collected beer steins, miniature cars. They had so much stuff in their house. Is it worth collecting these types of Chachkas?

I’m at fault here too. I collect things like fairies, Steif, and other things. But, this past weekend, I realized that maybe it’s not worth collecting chachkas, unless they make you happy.

My parents thought that they would invest in these trinkets and, when they sold out, they would have “hundreds of dollars.”

Talking about money, it was always the talk of conversation in our family. We never had enough. So, when my parents discovered that collecting trinkets and bric-a-brac was how they could invest their money, that’s what they did.

I know some of the trinkets made them happy. My mother loved her dolls. She even went as far as allocating certain dolls to certain children and grandchildren. Little did she know, no one was interested in the dolls or the plates or the Lladros or anything else that she collected. It is very sad. (I came home with a ton. I couldn’t see them going to waste!)

When my dad moved out to an Independent Living Facility, my brother and I had the honor of cleaning out his house. He and my mom lived in Kings Point for 20+ years. About six years ago, my mother passed away at the age of 74 and my dad never cleared out any of her stuff. I think it was too painful for him. It certainly was for the three of us.

So, it wasn’t until this weekend that we had to go through his stuff and quickly. I had a planned trip to Utah the following week and I canceled my half marathon in NYC because only two weeks before, my dad called me and said, “I’m moving.”

There was no time. Some people have the luxury of months to go through their stuff. We had no time. We had to pack my dad up, settle him into his new apartment and then pack up the house.

Going through old photos was tough. Seeing photos of my beautiful sister made me cry. (As you know, she passed nearly a year ago.)

I was grateful for my brother and his family for helping out. I know I couldn’t have done it without him. There was so much work to do and there still is a lot of work. Unfortunately, my dad couldn’t help.

I posted on Facebook and got an interesting response:

One woman said, “I am trying to purge my own things now…keep only what is particularly meaningful to me…pare way back…to spare my own grown kids down the road.”

Another friend said, “I buy virtually nothing anymore. Cleaning out my parents’ apartment when they both passed in 2005 convinced me that everything is stuff they take out of the house when you’re dead.
When the weather is inclement and I can get a ride, I go mall walking to get in some exercise. It is all I can do to keep from shouting at people STOP BUYING STUFF!!!!”

I think a lesson is learned here. If you love something and have to have it to make you happy, buy it. But don’t think it will ever be worth anything to anyone.

Let me know your thoughts…