Many years ago my brother and I started collecting baseball cards. I still remember sifting through piles of 1986 Topps baseball cards while watching the Mets beat the Red Sox in ’86 World Series. It was the first time that I really watched baseball and I loved it. There was so much fun to be had sorting through cards. Then I found out that there were Beckett price guide books released every year that updated us on what the value of my collection was. That was obviously long before the internet and my appetite for instant gratification was satiated when I started getting the occasional copy of their monthly magazine.
Part of the fun was trying to put together a complete set, part of it was trying to get cards of my favorite player (pretty sure there were several Don Mattingly for Will Clark trades made back in the day). Part of it was investing our relatively hard earned allowance dollars on packs of cards which we wee able to buy at Habel’s for only $0.45 per pack. We couldn’t believe that our dad wasn’t impressed with our investment – Nick and I were going to be filthy rich off of these cards one day! “But Dad, just look at how much the cards from 1952 are worth!!!”
Of all of the things that Nick and I did as kids, that was one that just kept going and going. From baseball cards in the late 80’s to basketball and football cards in the early 90’s to hockey cards and comic cards it was a hobby that just stuck. So many hours of fun looking at them, reading them, trying to find ways to get better ones, digging through piles when an error card was discovered, so many hours of enjoyment. To this day Nick and I still will occasionally get each other packs and boxes of cards as gifts.
Here I am, many years later and I still have huge boxes of them buried downstairs. I’m a bit of a packrat and I hesitate to throw something away… Who knows when I might need it again? Then a few seemingly random things kind of hit me from different angles.
I read an excellent book called Essentialism which was focused on cutting out the clutter in our lives. It reminds me on a daily basis to pay attention to the things that I have around me that just don’t get used.
Due to a health issue with one of my favorite uncles I’ve been thinking a lot about my Aunts and Uncles (& other family members like Darren & Jane) and all of the fun times I’ve had with them over the years. There are so many cool things about each of them that I can think back to and the memories bring me great joy. As an example, my Uncle Frank and Aunt Andrea took Nick and I to a Brewer game as kids and I remember thinking that he must know some of the players with the way that he hollered to them… and oddly enough, I remember getting mooned by an entire school bus on the way out of the parking lot! There have been so many things and experiences my family has given me, I need to work harder on living up to their example.
Then Becky told me about how my nephews Nathan and Nicholas have started collecting football cards and how much fun they have with them.
All of these things kept bouncing around in my brain, and then BAM!!! I don’t look at many of those old football cards anymore and my boys are more into other types of collectibles than football cards. What the hell am I ever going to do with them? How much fun would Nathan and Nicholas have going through those cards and finding some new treasures (and some old ones from back in the mid-80’s)?
As I started digging through my old cards to find a bunch to give them I was damn near giddy. It was so much fun to see all of these cards again, to have so many memories brought back just by seeing the pictures. Thinking of stories Nick and I used to make up about the players just based on the picture on the card made me smile and kept bringing back more memories. Seeing the cards that were super expensive back in the day (over $1.00) and the cards that were insanely valuable (over $10.00) reminded me of how excited I was to pull them out of a fresh pack. It was awesome!
What made it even more awesome was the reason I was doing it. As I pulled some of the more crazy cards, some with pieces of a jersey, some made out of leather, one with an autograph) I was imaging just how ecstatic my nephews might be when they saw them. I still remember the first time I opened an autograph card, my jaw dropped and I just sat in wild amazement for many minutes. I was going through those cards in a childlike state of glee, enjoying the moment as if I were Nathan and Nicholas going through the cards myself. It was AWESOME!!!
One other really cool thing happened along the way. Dominic remembered that he had some football cards too and decided that he should give them to someone who would enjoy them more. Then he dug up his cards, sorted them by team, put a rubber band around them, and added them to the pile for his cousins. How awesome is that???
After I boxed them up I sent them up with Becky this past week so she could take them to the boys. I kept smiling at random times during the week thinking about how happy they might be when they opened their new found treasures. There were many of those smiles over the past few days.
And then today the gift that I had given gave me yet another gift back. Becky’s sister sent Becky the following photo…
And then a couple of hours later this one…
How awesome is that? There they were on the living floor, just like Nick and I were almost exactly thirty years ago sifting through cards that we had gotten from our relatives. Sorting by team, sorting by set, sorting by year, examining each card and finding some that would be our treasures forever… Just like when I first got them.
That’s when it hit me. Here’s a gift that I was given by family many years ago, I enjoyed them when I got them, I enjoyed them throughout the years when I would stumble across them, I enjoyed finding the good ones to give away, and I enjoyed seeing how they are being enjoyed by others. The gifts I was given have continued to keep on giving. I am so thankful for the opportunity to help move them along to the next generation to enjoy, it has filled my heart with joy.