Giving Thanks: To a hoarder’s dream

Saniya Koppikar, Entertainment Editor

A history book written in ceramics takes shape in my kitchen cupboard. As if I’m on a journey through time, decades of stories conglomerate each time I reach in. 

My family’s mug collection consists of mugs of all shapes and sizes: ones gilded and ones hand painted; ones from the Lewisville Walmart and ones from a stall on the streets of Mumbai. Despite their origin, I value each in the millions––and despite their value, I reach for each with ease. I find comfort in them, in the tactile acknowledgment of years past.

Decades ago, Walt Disney World circa 1997. Dark blue ceramic with a visage of Winnie the Pooh on the handle. “The Milk Mug,” as my parents refer to it. It was a favorite of my brother and I in our elementary school days. 

White and thin, with a delicate red and green filigree heart painted on the front. Seemingly a staple in every Indian-American household. Washed thoroughly, this mug still smells like the turmeric my mom adds in her chai. 

The matching pair: short and white, emblazoned with “Hubby” and “Wifey” in swooping script. They were a gift to my parents years ago, but as it turns out, are used by yours truly more frequently than anyone else in the house. 

I can only describe the next of the bunch as “The Reindeer Mug.” It is an immediate whirl back in time to childhood Christmases filled with hot chocolate and steaming milk. It is the sort of mug you’d find in a donation pile, but it’s hung on as both my brother and I have grown up. Yes, I break it out occasionally, though its use demands a certain level of hot chocolate-making prowess.  

The more recent additions: my pandemic birthday gift bought off an Etsy shop, a souvenir from the “Stranger Things” exhibition at the mall, and one, brought back from India, so touristy you’d think it was our first time visiting. 

I could go on and on, but here’s the thing: it’s not just mugs. My family likes collecting. It’s our thing––and it would be called hoarding if it wasn’t such a meticulously organized practice. The bookcase is filled with figurines and decades of commemorative shot glasses, the photo albums are stuffed with dozens of postcards, the laundry room door sags under the weight of the 63 baseball caps hung upon it and the fridge carries enough magnets to make a credit card detonate. I can imagine the gift shops cowering when they hear the Koppikar family’s footsteps closing in. 

And though “pay for experiences, not things” is a favorite saying of my parents, I know these collections are special to them. They’re special to me. After all, it’s not truly the things themselves that are valuable. 

This Thanksgiving, as I reach into this cabinet to make my latte, I’m thankful for memories, history and incredible stories. And, of course, an escape from doing the dishes. 

Follow Saniya (@SaniyaKoppikar) and @CHSCampusNews on Twitter.