• Neil Allen

How to Focus A Collection

Updated: Jul 31

Let's be honest, Nativities come in a wide variety of forms. If you are like most collectors (if there is a category of "Most Collectors") you probably started a collection before you knew it was a "collection." Three became ten. Ten became 150. That level of acceleration of my own collection is fairly accurate. In the space of 10 years I went from 2 to 200 (okay, let's be honest, just say less than 400) before I even realized I was a collector.


While our reasons for collecting may vary widely, most nativity collectors I know expanded their collection in a variety of directions before they began to focus to specific directions. Well...at least that's our idealized view of a refined nativity collector.


I suspect a majority of "serious" collectors (aren't we all serious?) bought, were gifted, collected, en massed, and purchased nativities that caught their eye and filled the "unique" hole in our passion that can never be filled 100%. Then, before they realized it, their set map spread to multiple countries. Three became ten...well, I think we already covered that.


Somewhere along the path an idea passed through our minds that goes something like "wouldn't it be great to get a nativity from every country of the world?" Assuming someone in each country made a nativity set that would total 197 - which just happens to be the exact number of "addiction." I'm joking of course. And, if you are asking if I'm a addict nativities collector, I want you to know I can stop any time I want to!



Yes, eventually that thought will move through a collectors mind. "Am I addicted to collecting?" Let's assume the answer is a clear yes, BUT justifiable by the enablers in our circle of friends and family that say things like, "Yes, you have too many sets, but what a marvelous thing to spend your life doing."


Sayings like this keep the addiction going until we reach that point where push and shove get into a knife fight in our storage space. In my case, my wife drew an imaginary line on the floor and said, "Don't go past that!"


This meme should indicated me keeping my promise.

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BTW, I am not alone in hearing that ultimatum from my spouse. I know one person that reached that level and then managed to negotiate her way into a separate dwelling for her collection, which she added to once her husband passed away...but I digress. (Don't worry Judy, I didn't mention you by name).


Once reality sets in, which again varies widely, partially due to space, economics, and partially to our children grabbing us by the collar and shaking us until we agree we have a problem, we are ready to begin the recovery process.


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Step one of twelve is to "admit we have a problem and also admit we are powerless to overcome it." (adapted from Alcholics Annymous).


Did I happen to mention I can stop anytime I want?


Where was I?


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Oh yes, realizing the collection has exceeded our families approval limit...or as the Bible says in Luke 15, regarding the prodigal son, "When he came to his senses...." A wave of wisdom sweeps over the collector and they take one of two paths. Path #1 is the impossible task of finding other people willing to take our collection. Unfortunately I have in my role as Webmaster and recipient of the Friends of the Creche emails, been down this path far too often.


The phone call goes something like this, "Hi, I'm (insert name of spouse, child, grandchild of a collector). I was wondering if the Friends of the Creche would like to inherit my (partners, mother/father, grandma/grandpa's) collection?


BTW, those calls cut me to the heart. I often know the collector they are referring to, or glance to my storage area and ask myself, "wow, I think I could cram another 100 sets in there if I was careful to use every inch." Those calls never end well.


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Path #2 is restructuring our collections to styles and qualities that best exemplify our refined taste...to say it another way, getting rid of the chotskies and getting the good stuff...and STOP RIGHT THERE IF YOU ARE EQUATING COLLECTORS OF NATIVITIES TO ONLY BUYING THE GOOD *&*&^% as if we were on the street negotiating a drug purchase! And BTW, I have only overheard that kind of language used, I DO NOT HAVE FIRST HAND KNOWLEDGE OF DRUG PURCHASING. THANK YOU VERY MUCH, BUT TAKE YOUR OPINIONS DOWN THE ROAD.


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Where was I? Oh yes, narrowing the focus of a collection.


Well, here is my best advice. Don't ask my advice.

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