With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I talked with my mother-in-law Kathy about her collection of more than 700 pilgrims.
We have always been big fans of displaying personal collections in your home. Recently I blogged about decorative ways to display a collection and ways to display your ceramics collection. I think a collection adds character and personality to your home and looks so interesting creatively grouped together.
To use one of my favorite Southern expressions (I occasionally try to throw them in to fit in with the locals, bless my heart) my mother-in-law, Kathy, has a pilgrim collection “what-am!” For those of you who need a translation, that is a very large and completely impressive collection of pilgrims – and other Thanksgiving-related – objects.
It all started more than 30 years ago, circa 1982. Kathy was strolling through a Hallmark store in the mall and ran across a pair of pilgrim sculptures that she thought were cute. (The little tiny ones in the left front corner of the raised platform in this photo.)
She bought them on a whim and showed them to John when she got home. Probably because she was so delighted with them, John soon brought home another pair of pilgrims – just to make her smile. (Those were the next two to the right.)
Not long after that, Kathy found another pair of pilgrims in a local K-Mart, and a collection was born. Friends and family gave her pilgrims around Thanksgiving every year and sometimes as holiday gifts.
The burgeoning collection grew to include Indians, pumpkins, turkeys, cornucopias and all things Thanksgiving-related. To date, Kathy estimates she has around 700 objects in her prized pilgrim collection – it is incredibly impressive when displayed together, as she does in the EuroLux Gallery window starting in October every year. Passersby can’t help but stop in their tracks and exclaim with wonder!
Kathy especially loves pilgrims because to her they represent courage, bravery, and fortitude.
She greatly admires their willingness to leave behind everything familiar and set out to build a new life in an unknown world, far across the ocean. The pilgrims had to make do with so little and work so hard in order to survive.
It really bothers Kathy that Thanksgiving is the holiday that doesn’t get much airtime. Halloween runs into Christmas in our retail stores, but Thanksgiving doesn’t get much attention – probably because the focus isn’t buying stuff. She thinks we should take more time to honor the bravery of the pilgrims – and to be thankful for what we have in our lives, including relationships with family and friends.
Kathy’s absolute favorite pilgrimage site (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun) was to Plymouth, Massachusetts, which she describes as “pilgrim heaven.” There were shops on every corner with an amazing selection of pilgrim-related things! Some were even life-size, but Kathy restrained due to limited space in the car during the New England adventure. She did enjoy seeing Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower.
Kathy’s collection contains pilgrims in all shapes and sizes – monkeys, bears, dogs, foxes, chipmunks, cats, mice, and plenty of owls dressed as pilgrims. She tries not to duplicate the ones she has, and she is always glad to serve as a pilgrim matchmaker when she finds a single pilgrim man or a pilgrim woman all by their lonesome. In fact, she found a single pilgrim woman in Waynesville, NC, who had lost her mate to breakage, and paired her up – a year and a half later – with the original matching pilgrim man, whose mate had been stolen from a shop in Columbus, OH! Reunited at last in a happy and growing pilgrim colony in South Carolina.
Kathy is a real inspiration to us, and to everyone who sees her pilgrim collection in the store window. Come and see it if you find yourself on Historic Main Street, Newberry, South Carolina. (We’re at number 1409.) We wish you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving holiday in the true spirit of the pilgrims!
Aimee owns EuroLuxHome.com with her husband and best friend, Greg. Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way. She loves her 9 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Find us on Facebook or connect with EuroLux on Google+. Or you can sign up here to receive this blog in your inbox.