Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies, Crocs and How Hoarders Give Presents

I'm not sure if this is another side of hoarding, but my parents are really connected to objects. Objects are their way of connecting and communicating with others, but in a strange kind of way.

For example, I served in the army for a year. They were coming to visit, and I mentioned it would be nice if they brought me some long underwear. When they arrived, they had an extra suitcase FULL of thermal underwear, not just the couple pairs for the year but enough for 10 years.

Pepperidge Farm Soft Baked Chocolate Chip cookies

Later I got married, and when my parents were getting ready to visit, they asked what they could bring. My wife was friendly and didn't mention anything to bring in particular, but she did say how she had liked Pepperidge Farm Soft Baked Chocolate Chip cookies when she last visited The States.

Then when they arrived, as we sifted through the things in their baggage, I pulled out a bag of  Pepperidge Farm Soft Baked Chocolate Chip cookies. Then I lifted up some clothes and pulled out another bag of Pepperidge Farm Soft Baked Chocolate Chip cookies. It went on and on. After going through all luggage, we had pulled out over 20 bags of Pepperidge Farm Soft Baked Chocolate Chip cookies. It was more than enough. Believe me, after that, my wife had enough Pepperidge Farm Soft Baked Chocolate Chip cookies to last for years.


On another visit, they asked again, if they could bring anything. I mentioned that my father-in-law worked at a deli counter at a big supermarket, and he was on his feet all day. I told my parents that it would really help if they brought him some Crocs shoes, that there were comfortable and good for someone on their feet. Sure enough, they arrived with an extra suitcase. It was filled with various slip on shoes. They were Crocs-style, but not Crocs. Cheaper. Probably on sale My in-laws were happy but a little surprised as to why they brought so many shoes.

More Stuff

My wife came to understand that their way of communicating and connecting with people was through stuff.  I guess they felt like it made an impression. Or that this was a way of bringing people into their world.  I don't know, and I wonder if this is consistent with the experiences of others that have been with hoarders. I actually had never connected the two sides of hoarding before, that in their own home things were accumulated and in giving presents were given in mass. Not items of value, or super high quality, but in quantity.

Another Visit

On another visit that my parents intended to take to come to see us. I had discussed with my wife carefully about how to talk to them. We would be friendly and civil, but not ask for anything. My wife is warm and friendly and chatted with them for about 20 minutes. Finally after saying good-byes, I asked her how the chat was. "You didn't ask for anything right, even if they prodded you?"

"Of course not," she said. "I only said that I liked the Ziplock bags they brought last time."

Oh no. Not Ziplock bags!

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