Among My Souvenirs...

What’s Your Favorite Souvenir?

“Souvenirs are perishable; fortunately, memories are not.”

– Susan Spano

 According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, Souvenir is defined as:

"a remembrance or memory," from French souvenir, from Old French, noun use of souvenir (v.) "to remember, come to mind," from Latin subvenire "come to mind," from sub- "up" + venire "to come". Meaning "token of remembrance, memento" is first recorded1782.

Charms, what-nots, miniatures and figurines; pins, pennants and patches; magnets, coins and metals; salt & pepper shakers, mugs, and shot glasses; books, stuffed animals, t-shirts and baseball caps...at one time or another I’m willing to bet that you’ve brought a few of these home with you? Maybe it was artwork, a scarf, a pair of earrings or some local goodies such as liqueurs, honey or chocolate? Maybe it was something collected along the way –a seashell, a flower, a stone? Perhaps something with a logo, a name, a date...decaled, stamped, embossed, etched or embroidered? And, of course, there had to be lots of pictures and postcards!

 Do you collect souvenirs? Do you shop for them when you travel? Some can resist and consider them trinkets, knick-knacks, tchotchke or, as my Dad would say, dust collectors. After all, one person’s prized souvenir is another’s kitsch. I often stroll by and through shops and wonder, who buys this stuff? So much of it is so...well, tacky! Then I remember that even the corniest, cheesiest souvenir is someone else’s treasure.

 And who am I to judge? I’ve collected just about everything from matchbooks to cocktail napkins and swizzle sticks! Even something silly can conjure up great memories; meals shared, laughs and stories, toasts, a smile, a giggle, even a tear ... souvenirs of the heart. Les beaux souvenirs as the French would say, happy memories. Proof that, not only were we there but when and with whom we shared that special time.  If it’s a present, someone was thinking of you or you were thinking of them and the sentiment is clear, “I thought of you when I saw this...”

 Anyone who knows me knows I’ve always been a bit of a collector. I can’t help it...it’s in the gene pool! My Mother was a collector and I can still see where every little treasure, many that I gave to her, sat on the mantle and shelves. And, as I recentlyhad to pack all of my memories for a move, I realized that each souvenir, no matter how small or inexpensive, was a souvenir of the heart. Each embodies so much more than the obvious for each has it’s own story about where I was, who I was with or who gave it to me...

 And I’m also reminded of those I met along the way ...those chance encounters and connections that made my travels so much more enjoyable and special. Recollections of the friendly shopkeeper who came from behind the counter to give directions or who carefully wrapped that inexpensive little souvenir because I told them it was a gift... the guide or driver who went out of their way to help me find your way...the friendly and attentive hotel staff who greeted me and were patient when I asked the same questions they’ve been asked a million times...the cheerful wait staff that gave me an extra scoop of gelato just because...

 People you or I will probably never meet again, but our paths crossed and our encounter was a little more pleasant and yes, fun! However fleeting and brief, we’ve shared a moment and it was so much more than the exchange of goods and currency...

 Now I take a lot more photos to capture these moments, so when I started to pull together a slideshow, it was hard to pick and choose! So many wonderful memories, so many so many handsome and lovely faces, so many helping hands and hearts.  It brought a smile to my face and a deep sense of gratitude.

Surely these are treasured souvenirs...not to be tucked away in drawers or closets or to sit and gather dust, but alive, vibrant and enduring.

"Souvenirs"

“Here’s to the twilight
here’s to the memories
these are my souvenirs
my mental pictures of everything
Here’s to the late nights
here’s to the firelight
these are my souvenirs
my souvenirs”

- Switchfoot

What are some o your treasured souvenirs?

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