In the past several months I've been studying French using DuoLingo, a site/app that allows you to learn languages on the go. While English is a conglomeration many different languages, French and English are uniquely intertwined considering their history. (A great book on this is 1000 Years of Annoying the French by Stephen Clarke.) Throughout the middle ages the courts of England and France vied for control of the two lands which left French as a vibrant color in the tapestry of the English language. Often as new words are introduced on DuoLingo, I find they are not so new indeed. Words like brunette, omelette, chauffeur, and table are easily recognizable for what they are. Occasionally though, a word gains a greater depth and understanding by learning its origin which brings me to our word of the day.
Today's Word: Souvenir
Three syllables. Pronounced soo-vuh-neer or soo-vuh-neer. Defined in the OAD as thing that is kept as a reminder of a person, place or event. That is how we use it in English, but in French it can be a verb meaning, to remember. When I saw the translation of remember as souvenir I experienced one of those "ah-ha moments" of understanding. I buy a souvenir to remember.
With all our travels this summer we have seen a large number of souvenir shops. These establishments sell t-shirts, sweatshirts, refrigerator magnets, postcards, knick-knacks, decorative pillows, and a million other items. The items range in price from cheap to expensive and often when shopping in them, your view of what seems like a "good deal" gets thrown off-kilter by the prices. "Only $5.00 for this hideous flip-flop wall hanging! What a deal!" Here's the problem though. Remember when I wrote about experiencing things? Experiencing things will change your perspective on the world, improve your understanding of history, and enrich your life. Owning a $5.00 flip-flop wall hanging will make those visiting your home cringe.
Reasons to avoid spending money in souvenir shops:
I'm not opposed to all souvenir purchases. I collect Starbucks mugs and have acquired quite a large number of mugs. Some of my mugs have been purchased by me on trips that I've been on, and some have been purchased by others who know I collect them. When a dear friend traveled to Bangkok, Thailand she brought me home a mug. Every time I use that mug I think of her. The mugs are also a conversation piece for my guests. When people come over for coffee I ask, "Where do you want to go?" The conversation the follows is always one of my favorites. My husband collects stickers from places he's been while vacationing and puts them on his camping bins. The memories that flow from seeing these build up anticipation for future trips. These purchases are intentional and help the viewer connect with a person or individual. This is a good souvenir.
Tips for buying good souvenirs:
My mug collection helps me to remember places and people.
"A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one."