Everything has value

At the thrift shops, the shopkeepers will collect bits of this and that into small clear plastic bags. They fold these over and staple them at the top to both hold the treasures in -- and yes, these bags are filled with treasures -- and to limit the number of items held within each one. The staple also catches both the price tag and whatever method the shop uses to hang the bags, row upon row, from displays.

The contents are brilliantly and deliciously, collected thematically, but at the same time, similar items are divided into separate bags which must be hunted down along the aisle or throughout the store. For example, on a recent trip to a thrift shop, I found a bag with three metal 8mm film cannisters in one bag. I shook them to see if the film was still inside. The sound indicated that they were empty, which gave me only a moment's pause. Sure, the film still inside would have been a bonus, but the metal container by itself holds interest. The pause to shake and listen gave me the time to notice another set of three hanging just to the left of the hook that had held these.

In early childhood hoarding, we think in sets of five and ten. Once you find a set, and the price is right, then yes, you may proceed, into the basket with the bags. As I walked on, I found another set of three, and then another. In fact, the shop had well over 20 film cannisters, randomly distributed, yet carefully collected in sets of three. I didn't buy all of them. I only bought the number I needed which is 10, plus the extra two, because...math...you will actually and joyfully use math every single day.

I walked on. 

In the toy section, the clear plastic bags collect toys. Cars with cars, action figures with action figures, dinosaurs with dinosaurs, but if there is a run on dinos, there might be a random lizard thrown in. The shopkeepers already know what you want. A single beautiful horse or glittered unicorn might reside in their very own bags. A premium bag and price tag devoted to a single item of "must have" and yes, we must have it. The bag gets dropped into the basket. 

The clear plastic bags sometimes can be dismissed with a glance, but often they must be turned and held. One bag revealed a hedgehog. Two hedgehogs! One carved in wood and the other a carefully detailed plastic figurine. Now a decision must be made...does the price of the entire collection of figurine flotsam justify its purchase just for two hedgehogs? Hold on! The bag also contained two baby wild boars. The balance is now tipped. Four desirable items in a bag containing 15 or 18 items goes in the basket.

Later, as I unlock the truck, balancing all my purchases stacked this way and that in my arms, the little bag holding the flotsam drops on the pavement. I hear a tiny crack. Opening the bag, I see that a hippo made of some hard plastic has broken its legs. So sorry, hippo. I also get to see the other items in the bag clearly for the first time. There is a tiny ceramic baby chimpanzee that survived the drop. Phew. The hedgehogs and boars are even better than expected once on their own. The rest of the random figurines were truly flotsam that will soon be landlocked by little hands during play out in our play yard. 

Then these caught my eye...


Ears missing on the -- what is it? a deer, a cow? -- with little bits of its handmade chalky, painted surface knocked off. Its little snout raised in a bit of desperate bleating. Then the zebra, with its clear smile and laughing eyes was linked together with the deer-cow by legs made of nails. Legs made of tiny, tiny, rusted nails with bits of paper glued to the heads of those nails.

Oh, you pretty things.

These things are made with love. Whatever material was used for the bodies is too fragile to construct the legs that would hold them up. Nails were found for the job, and yes, thank you those will do and do quite well. The deer-cow with its chips and missing ear is comforted by the eternally cheerful disposition of the zebra.

Welcome to your new home, little ones. Stand up. Never give up. Love and be loved.