Yesterday I was on Skype with Brandi and Alexis. We were discussing possible timeframes during which I might be home from this deployment, and I made the comment that I wouldn’t be coming home with any presents or any cool surprises from over here in Iraq or Kuwait. I did tell Lex that I would make sure I had money on my account so I could pick up a surprise in Germany. Brandi rebutted, saying that she didn’t think that Lex expected anything, and not to worry about it.
Well, of course, I’m not coming home empty handed; but the conversation later got me to thinking: who really came up with this expectation?
Lex never asked me for anything. She hasn’t asked for anything anytime I’ve gone anywhere for training or a deployment. Brandi and I never discussed any gift requirements either. That leaves… me. Not that it’s a bad thing, trying to get souvenirs from foreign places, but honestly, it’s the same crap found in souvenir shops in Texas, New England, Kuwait, Afghanistan… what’s really funny is that most of it is made in China. How ironic.
So my question is: why do we have this expectation that we have to bring things home from where we visit in the first place? I’d bet that most of our refrigerators only have two to three inches of space not taken up by $5 magnets. Our junk drawers are almost guaranteed to have some long-forgotten trinkets from a couple of places. “Must-haves”, right? The thing that gets me most is we don’t usually display these treasures. We have to get them as memories and make claims that so-and-so will “love this.” They don’t want the stuff either!
Case in point—2003, I deployed to the Middle East for a few months, spending time in Qatar, Kuwait, and Iraq. On the way home, I picked up a couple little ornamental oil lamps—you know—the “Genie” sort. I also made sure I picked up a few prayer rugs, simply because they had Middle Eastern patterns on them (the Chinese versions, anyway) and grabbed some silver cartouche necklaces for Brandi and I. I sent them home, all proud that we now had cool stuff from foreign lands.
Where are they now? The prayer rug lasted a couple of days—until our oldest realized that it would never fly like in Aladdin’s. The oil lamps collected dust on various shelves, the bathroom sink; then ended up as toys for the youngest. And the cartouches? Good silver, I will give them that much. They tarnished seconds after they were unwrapped from their fine Chinese Egyptian cotton sheaths and the air hit them. I think we eventually just got rid of them.
Again, I’m still going to bring home something, but I’m definitely not going to shop for a knockoff Faberge Egg at a Deutsch airport vendor.
Oh well. At least the kid can sleep in an “I love Berlin” tee-shirt.
Have you ever thought about this? What’s your “junk” story?
Image retrieved from https://www.destination360.com/middle-east/qatar/images/s/qatar-shopping.jpg