Tchotchkes, pronounced chut-keys, are “small objects that are decorative in nature, rather than strictly functional.” My grandmother used to call them “knicknacks.” In attempting to clear my house of clutter, I discovered I had many of these objects, often dust collectors. As I looked at each tchotchke, I decided which I could not part with and which I would do away with.

This little mailbox was given to My Better Half by his Secret Pal one year at the high school where he taught and was filled with Hershey’s Kisses. The decoupaged bottle was a gift from a Russian woman I was teaching English as a Second Language to one semester. I put them both out in my Little Free Library, and they were gone in a flash.

The Chinese soldier was in my husbands things and into the LFL he went too. I kept, however, the model of the Empty Tomb a pastor friend sent us as a souvenir from his honeymoon to The Holy Lands.

One of My Better Half’s students made the triangular face, and it, too, was destined for the LFL.

The “PG” (pretty great) figure was a gift to My Better Half from a student, and it joined the things in the LFL. The crewel embroderied pictures were ones I did in 1976 in honor of the American bi-centennial. They stayed on the shelf, as did the commemorative coin on the stand. The owl to the far right also went into the LFL. I put these things out there a few at a time, usually right before the kids walked by on their way home from school. The caricature below was done by a friend in a matter of seconds when he was around 85. He is now 91 and still going strong. To the right is a string of Tibetan prayer flags and above it is my teaching motto in calligraphy my student gave me one year. It reads, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Rick Warren The Purpose Driven Life.

My mother gave me the little doggie teacher and her pupils and the bookmarks were crocheted by a close friend. Look closely at the giant acorn and the two unusual pinecones from the yard. All of these stayed on the shelf.

These 1940s vases were on my mantel. I packed them away for the winter, along with the aqua pillow covers and other accessories I put out in Spring and replaced them with brown and burgundy accents for the winter.

This business card was from one of my students who majored in printmaking. That semester I bought several pieces from her.

The totem poles were made from plaster of Paris and painted in Vacation Bible School by My Better Half when he was about 12. I couldn’t part with these. The southwestern vase is from my favorite junk shop, and I gritted my teeth and gave it to a friend as a nothings day present. The photo is from a visit to Texas from a former student and her family who live in Boston.

These nesting dolls were a gift from a friend who brought them back from Russia and who was going into an assisted living facility. The red book behind them is an antique book of wildfires, and yes, I parted with this as well.

This served as a trip down memory lane for me; I hope you enjoyed going along. Perhaps you have similar tchotchkes in your home. Please leave a comment and tell me about them.

RAE 1/16/23


Author: Rae Longest

This year (2019) finds me with 50 plus years of teaching "under my belt." I have taught all levels from pre-K "(library lady" or "book lady"--volunteer) to juniors, seniors, and graduate students enrolled in my Advanced Writing class at the university where I have just completed 30 years. My first paying teaching job was junior high, and I spent 13 years with ages 12-13, the "difficult years." I had some of the "funnest" experiences with this age group. When I was no longer the "young, fun teacher," I taught in an elementary school setting before sixth graders went on to junior high, teaching language arts blocs, an assignment that was a "dream-fit" for me. After completing graduate school in my 40s, I went on to community college, then university teaching. Just as teaching is "in my blood," so is a passion for reading, writing, libraries, and everything bookish. This blog will be open to anyone who loves books, promotes literacy and wants to "come out and play."

6 thoughts on “TCHOTCHKES”

  1. I have been doing a bit of clearing out, too. It is no small job to assess what should stay and what should go. The thing that makes it a bit easier is passing it on to someone you think might enjoy it. Remember the two Fiesta Ware candle holders you gave me? I am enjoying them immensely on my dining table!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There is something sweet about looking at tchotchkes and remembering their stories. Some instantly take me to another time and place. Some take me back to a me I don’t even recognize.

    Still, I like to look at things for a bit, remember, then off they go, to a new person, making new memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You are right Rae, we do end up with a lot of things over the years that eventually we need to part with. My husband was an only child and I now have a lot of things from his parents that I need to see if my kids want, or get rid of. It is so hard to make those decisions, but yes it is a great trip down memory lane.

    Liked by 1 person

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