I immediately investigated, looking for its proper home. I checked every crevice, hinge and surface of the coffeemaker to no avail. Ditto for the pot’s carafe and other items in the general vicinity. It had to come from somewhere, I reasoned, perhaps someplace important. I set it aside, waiting for the inevitable malfunction that would make its role obvious.
That was weeks ago and I still don’t know the source of this miniscule chunk of plastic. I am certain, however, that to toss it would be a grave mistake for its serious purpose would become obvious the moment it was no longer available. So there it sits, forlorn on a windowsill, another source of clutter in my family’s life.
What does this have to do with family history, you might ask. I’m convinced that this reluctance to toss anything that might not have lived out its productive life is something that was passed down to me from my ancestors. Since my wife doesn’t share this trait, it will be interesting to see which side of the save-or-toss line our children and their offspring fall.
My grandmother left her heirs a cache of flour sacks that remain to this day flour sacks. Grandma clearly saw a higher purpose for them, doubtless from her hardscrabble upbringing. I grew up in a family where the women of the house kept cigar boxes or coffee cans full of assorted buttons and pins, knowing full well that you can never have enough of either in a fastening emergency.
For my part, I have in my garage a motley assortment of nuts-and-bolts-type fasteners gleaned by dismantling non-functioning appliances before disposing of them. Likewise, I have a couple of generations worth of scratch paper sliced from an assortment of sources over the years.
It just doesn’t make sense to get rid of something you might need someday. Does it?
Writing prompt for the day: Do you have any examples in your family of people hanging onto items for no obviously good reason?
Flickr photo courtesy of petercastleton.