broken symbolism of stuff

Flipping TV channels last night while trying to find that perfect somniferous program to replace Frasier (alas, I cannot), I witnessed Bethenny of Bethenny Ever After deciding she wants to collect snow globes (the nice ones, not the ones you buy in the airport), and the New Adventures of Old Christine‘s old Christine saying how much she loved a ring that she never wore, didn’t fit, and couldn’t find.

In both cases, the items of importance were symbolic. For Bethenny, the snow globes were meant to replace unhappy childhood memories, now that she’s living her dream. Her husband couldn’t reconcile Bethenny’s proclaimed aversion to stuff with her desire to collect globes, but he gave her a break when she pointed out that it wasn’t Gucci bags or something more extravagant. (Come on, Jason, she took you on a private plane and you’re bitching about a $50 snow globe?)

In Christine’s case, the ring was her ex-husband’s mother’s and he wanted to give it to his second wife. Christine felt that giving up the ring was akin to saying the relationship never existed. That’s a point I can understand, but personally don’t subscribe to. Having inherited my father’s wedding band, from second vows with my mother, I don’t see the purpose of holding on to a symbol when the thing it symbolizes is no longer precious. I don’t even know if I still have that ring, but every time I looked at it in the past I was just filled with a sense of frustration. What do I do with that and the family portraits that are nicely framed? Now they represent something that seems either failed or just absent … ancient history. It wouldn’t quite be sane to have a shrine of all these artifacts to failed marriages. At least, it wouldn’t be very healthful for me.

So what do we do with symbolic stuff that no longer represents what it should? Gretchen of the Real Housewives of Orange County took her diamond ring from her first marriage and repurposed it into a custom made ring for her parents’ 40th wedding anniversary. I find that both sweet and creepy, but she did manage to transform something no longer personally valuable to her into a meaningful object for someone she loved.

I sold my first wedding band (original price tag of $18) with a bunch of other trinkets to a man who owns a thrift shop in a neighboring town. I had already forgotten about it until I asked myself just now where that ring went.

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