Bindings: Reflections on faith, life, and good books
5/14/12 at 12:16 AM 1 Comments

Not Just Souvenirs: Refrigerator Magnets

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Yes, I've enjoyed collecting refrigerator magnets for many years, and I have hundreds of these colorful bits of plastic, wood, glass, fabric--what have you. Do I have one from every place I've ever visited or lived? In a word, no. Growing up in a military family and living overseas, there was no such thing as fridge magnets when I was a child. A "dear" friend asked the other day, "Oh, did they even have refrigerators when you were a child??" He should have been prepared to duck . . . really!

More than just colorful bits on our refrigerator, these magnets represent wonderful memories of enjoyable trips and fun places we've visited, as well as the blessings in my life. For without Him in my life, none of the places and events we have visited really matters at all. Photographs are merely a slice of time that reveal split seconds of life, but magnets represent the entirety of the experience.

My husband Clark tells people that we'll have to get a second fridge one of these days if I keep collecting. He may be right, but I have arranged my collection in such a way that there’s still plenty of room for more (that is, if you count the other side and top as space)! In fact, I’ll admit that I’m probably a bit compulsive about my magnets, as I even have them grouped by particular themes:

U.S. States: a quick glance across the fridge reveals some of the states we have visited in the U.S., in no particular order: NY, NJ, VT, KY, OK, IN, AR, NH, TN, FL, GA, SC, AZ, NM, TX, MA, VA, WV, and IL.

New York City: The Phantom of the Opera at the Majestic Theater, the United Nations, The Empire State Building, The Statue of Liberty, Little Italy, Long Island Ferry, St. Patrick's Cathedral, The Twin Towers (we were there in May before Sept. 11 on one of many trips), the Bronx Zoo, and Junior's Cheesecake in Brooklyn, and of course a New York City taxicab.

Other Cities/Places: The Biltmore House in Asheville, NC (I cannot imagine maintaining and cleaning its more than 50 bathrooms); Linville Caverns in the NC mountains; Cape May, NJ; the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel (we once lived on MD's Eastern Shore in Pocomoke City); the Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island, MI (featured in the movie Somewhere In Time, starring Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve--I love that movie!); the Grand Canyon; Niagara Falls; The Continental Divide, NM; PA Dutch Country; Hersey's Chocolate Factory; Sedona, AZ; Myrtle Beach, SC; Disney World in FL; various points of interest around Washington, DC, such as the Jefferson Memorial, the Capitol Building; and the Smithsonian; and of course, Graceland in Memphis, TN. I also have a guitar-shaped magnet emblazoned with the name "ELVIS." For barbecue lovers, we ate at Interstate Barbecue in Memphis, and trust me, it deserves its rating in the top ten BBQ restaurants by the Food Network.

Countries: I have a loaf of French bread from Paris, France, and also a sombrero and woven blanket from Mexico. I bought neither one myself, and although I lived in France and visited Paris as a child, my brother brought me the Paris magnet. A family member gave me the Mexico magnet. And, there's a maple leaf flag, representing our enjoyable car trip across much of beautiful Canada a few years ago.

Chocolate: one proclaims that "Families are like fudge: mostly sweet with a few nuts." One of my favorites is my chocolate chip cookie, which looks so real that someone actually tried to eat it years ago when I placed it on a tray (as a joke) with real cookies! I also have a chocolate candy bar. It looks real, too, and the granddaughters thought it WAS the real thing.

Old Timey Americana: an old treadle sewing machine, a wood cook stove, an ironing board/iron, along with a hand-cranked meat grinder, a cast iron skillet containing eggs and bacon, percolator for coffee, egg beater, old radio, carton of eggs, sacks of flour and grain, rolling pin, Coca-Cola memorabilia (remember the polar bears?), Ivory soap, a milk bottle like those which used to be delivered to homes.

Foods: a tossed salad, a blueberry pie, a tin of muffins, a stack of pancakes, a bunch of bananas, a cutting board laden cheese and salami, French fries, a hot dog, a hamburger, a basket of apples, a basket of fresh veggies.

Cows: ranging from one that moos when a button is pushed to a cow thermometer, along with another proclaiming “Cow Collector”—even a little stuffed animal cow with magnets on its hooves. In fact, my kitchen is decorated with black-and-white cow decor, but that's for another post!

Sayings: my personal favorites, "Grandmas are special" (I didn't buy that--the granddaughters gave it to me); and "A daughter is a forever friend (because mine are)."

Others are terse:

“I express my individuality by collecting mass-produced magnets.”

"You can't scare me: I'm a teacher!"

"Lord, grant me patience, but hurry!"

"Never trust a skinny cook."

"I am woman--I am invincible--I am tired.”

Miscellaneous: for some inexplicable reason, I also have a trashcan full of trash, a butterfly, a gumball machine, a gingerbread man, an outdoor grill, Poppin' Fresh dough boy, and a painting by the French artist Monet (Oh yes: that was from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC). And, in honor of the dachshunds in our family (and my books), of course I have a black-and-tan doxie magnet.

Before there were magnets: Although my family and I visited the World's Fair in Brussels, Belgium, when I was a child in 1958, there were no magnets back then, so I made one out of a necklace I had depicting The Atomium, a huge silver building shaped like an atom, with concourses connecting the sections representing "neutrons" and "electrons" to the "nucleus" of the building. Quite imposing. While on this same trip, we experienced the Tulip Festival in Holland, which was breathtaking, with intricate floats made entirely of flowers. No magnet there, but I do have a pair of decorative wooden shoes. We visited medieval castles in Germany, and I had mouse souvenir I bought from a little shop. As an adult, I've wondered about the significance of a mouse souvenir from a castle--perhaps because mice were common inhabitants in them? On another trip across Europe, we attended a bull fight in Spain accompanied with much ceremony and flourishes from the bull fighters, but that was not really to my liking--I felt sorry for the bull. No magnet for that, but I do have a handkerchief depicting the event.

My final mention, but perhaps my most important magnet, proclaims: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33 KJV). This one magnet simply sums up the purpose of life and all of its events, travels, and experiences. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

In her 21-year career as an English teacher, Mavis Duke Hinton now teaches English online to students across the USA and several foreign countries. She grew up in a military family and lived abroad in Europe during her childhood. She has also been an editor for Christian and secular organizations, including Liberty University, as well as a police officer. She has taught Bible studies to all ages, from preschool children to adult women, and has spoken in educational conferences as well as women's groups from time to time. Married for forty-one years with two married daughters and three grandchildren, she has written two Christian fiction novels in The Dachshund Escapades series, I Am Sarge and I Am Dachshund, both published by OakTara.

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