Collect Your Own Mugs (Please!)

mugGara’s Lovely Mugs

Do you ever read those giveaway tabloids that are full of ads? You know the ones I mean. They usually have some enticing special offer from the local oil change shop or storage yard, but most of the ads are classifieds placed by people hoping to unload everything from old suitcases to guinea pigs to BMWs.

A few weeks ago, I read an ad in our Pennysaver: 

Mug collection. 30+ mugs, states, national parks, assorted tourist destinations. A-1 condition. $30 OBO. 

The ad made me cry. Crazy, huh? Why should somebody’s effort to clear out some clutter reduce me to tears?

Maybe it’s because my mother collected mugs. But I don’t think so. 

Some things you need to accumulate as you live your own life. Something feels wrong about instantly acquiring a mug collection through a transaction. It’s just not supposed to happen that way.

My mom had mugs from Disneyland and Texas and the San Diego Zoo. She had Christmas mugs, blue ones with cheerful snowmen grinning  from the glossy ceramic surface. She had Tweety Bird mugs. This fearless, all-in woman who was my mom? She loved Tweety Bird. 

Mom’s mug collection was her scrapbook–or maybe her road map. It held a one-of-a-kind collection, mementos of the places and events that had shaped her one-of-a-kind life. While she lived, she and I could sit at her table and gaze silently at the mugs, hanging by their handles on the wall. Without a word, we were communing over a life’s story–her life’s story, which made it part of my life’s story, too.

It would be easy to watch television shows and read magazines and to imagine that everyone else’s mug collection is stuffed chockablock with mugs from Bali. From the World Series. From the best day spa in town.

But when it comes to mugs, the only ones that count are your own. Only your mugs, collected one by one, tell the story of the life you were born to live. 

So how about you? Do you have a collection? What does your collection tell us about you? Would you swap your collection for someone else’s? Why/why not?

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.

Psalm 139: 1-3 (ESV)

rabbit conga

On Tuesdays, we’re talking about families and the joys and challenges that arise when we stretch across three (or more?) generations (child, parent, grandparent). The conversation began on January sixth  and we’ll continue until we run out of things to say. Everyone is welcome, and I hope to hear from each generation’s perspective.  Being family is by turns effortless, impossible, blessed, challenging, hurtful, joyous . . . . Let’s talk about it.

Please join us.


  1. Yes, I have a mug collection, but they’re all pottery pieces without any distinctive designs so are really only meaningful to me. (Actually, I suppose my collection is more about the pottery than the mugs. I just love pottery and have assorted pottery plates and bowls, too.) I have favourites among them, based mostly on colour and shape, and enjoy remembering where we were when I acquired each one. I have one from every Canadian province, a few American states where we’ve holidayed, and even one from Israel.

    • Carol, your collection sounds lovely. I totally understand that pottery thing. It’s an amazing medium!

      I have a thing for mixing bowls, but I don’t believe I have enough (yet!) to claim a “collection.” Ditto rabbits.

  2. My husband actually does collect mugs. We have shelves full of them — many from various Starbucks that he’s travelled to through the years. The mugs do, indeed, tell a story.

    • Don’t they, though?

      It’s funny. I have a few keepsakes that were my mom’s, but I didn’t want any of her mugs. It was too, too—too her.

      Rich and I make it a point to pick up a Christmas ornament or two when we visit new places. It makes for some fun reminiscing as we trim the tree each year.

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