Red Robin Dolls

OK, life got nuts there for a bit, but I’m finally back to trinket tossing! Good news: while I was gone this blog got its 1,000th WordPress follower, so a huge thank you to all you awesome readers who are finding this blog interesting enough to share it with the peoples. Word’s getting out, just like the trinkets… are getting out… of my house. Yeah, OK, the wordplay didn’t work, but you got the gist. To the trinkets!

It wasn’t until my mother died that I actually considered her Mickey Mouse addiction. As we began to sort through her things my family and I noticed that a significant chunk of it was in some way related to Mickey or Minne Mouse. It either was Mickey, had Mickey on it, or–upon opening–Mickey was mysteriously inside of it. I could give you a long psychological explanation for her Disney tendencies, but I’m already bored with this sentence, so I’ll just hit you with the implications. My mother’s abundance of vigor and compassion manifested itself in seemingly trivial objects. For instance, these Red Robin figurines. They were given to me and my girlfriend–who is now my wife–by my mother when she found out we had met at Red Robin Gourmet Burgers. This would have been cute, had we met there by chance bumping into one another en route to a photo op with the chubby mascot, or even if I had picked her napkin up off the floor as I was walking by and said, “Excuse me, this napkin was on the floor glowing with awesome beams and beauty rays; it must belong to you.” But no, we met there because we worked there. The way we met there is in fact romantic and funny, but having these little figurines does not help us remember that, having them just trivializes our meeting–it takes a bit of the magic. My mom didn’t know that we would feel that way, however, and this is how I have decoded my mother’s seemingly random obsession with objects: she wanted more than anything to share life’s joys with the ones that she loved. We went to Disney Land when I was little and I remember having a blast as a family, so every time she saw Mickey after that trip it reminded her of the time we spent exploring, laughing, and bonding together as a family. She infused her tangible objects with intangible emotions she never wanted to forget, and that’s why, when she saw two little Red Robin figurines in a thrift store, she snatched them immediately; because she thought our memories of how we met would be full of intangible emotions that we could export into the dolls, so that we would be warmed with joy every time we saw the objects. Unfortunately these toys mostly remind us of where we met, instead of how we met, and where we met comes with a flood of other awkward emotions that have nothing to do with how we met.

I just reread this post for grammatical stuff and realized that I am no different than my mother; this entire blog is about tangible objects infused with intangible emotions–that awkward moment when your addiction to trinkets is a genetic trait. Yikes.


~ by russell jander on March 5, 2012.

10 Responses to “Red Robin Dolls”

  1. Very nice post to come back on 🙂

  2. LOL! I’ve been there before… and i always remind myself that it’s the thought that counts. But the truth is that these ‘object’s never see the light of day and are hidden somewhere in the home.

  3. It’s interesting how the things people think they are doing to help or be nice actually makes us feel the opposite occasionally. Good for you for trying to empty your house of the objects while keeping the memories close.

  4. But Russell, my mother told me just the other day that she had passed on her genetic disposition for clutter and indifferent housekeeping — so it might be true!

    Good story nonetheless, and good to see you back. I’ve missed you. 🙂

  5. […] haven’t gotten anything more done, but I read a great post over on Russell’s 365 Trinkets, and I am beginning to wonder if I am too attached to the old fellow…maybe I shouldn’t […]

  6. At least you know why you have the dolls. My grandmother had two commemorative dolls, but commemorative of what we don’t know. They aren’t valuable, except to my mother. She inherited the dolls, then brought them to my house saying she knew they would be safe with me. Yeah, you guessed it, they’re on a shelf in my sewing room.

  7. My mother, my aunt, my grandfather, and my great-grandmother were all collectors of small trinkets, tchotchkes, and dustables, with my mother and particularly my aunt keeping all of the stuff previously collected. It was not a random assortment and little of it was outright junk, and, as you say, each item had a memory or emotional charge that they transmitted to me. When they died and I was faced with dealing with what felt like a tidal wave of stuff, I had to deal with the far more difficult challenge of finding a way to elude the emotional sting of letting the stuff (most of it, but not all by a long shot) go. I’m looking right now at a small chipped figurine of a spaniel. My mother bought it because it resembled the dog I grew up with, Penny. The chip came from one of my father’s rages. So I look at the figurine and it’s like grabbing onto an electrical line that zaps me with a fierce nostalgia for that dog, a sadness for my mother, and a residual anger at my father. I could no more throw it away than cut off my arm. So I don’t envy you your work. It’s not easy. But I have to say, you’re crazy if you get rid of those Red Robin figurines. They are really adorable! Really!

  8. The restaurant is just so-so, but your entry was sweet and suh-weeeeet.


  9. When you wrote: she wanted more than anything to share life’s joys with the ones that she loved…
    it struck me. Poetic and beautiful. I think your mom would love this very much.

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