Saturday, May 11, 2013

It's a Family Trait

When I was little, I lived across the street from my grandparents.
Me and Grandma. Yes, I still have those chipmunk cheeks!

I would spend each Saturday with them, rotating between grocery shopping one week with Grandma and going on Grandpa's mail route the next (it totally rocked being "Charlie's granddaughter" - I got to play in the mail bins and get soda and candy from vending machines).  I would also spend time there when I was bored at home.  They had so much stuff - games, toys, and fascinating odds and ends - that I could spend a week there and find something different to look at or explore every day!

After my grandmother passed away, my parents and aunts and uncles (my grandparents had five kids) started to clean out the house.  I suppose they did it to make things easier for my grandfather, but I'm not really sure it did that.  But what it did do is open my eyes to a family trait: hoarding.  Now, to be fair, my grandparents were of the Great Depression era, so they never wanted to throw anything away.  That aluminum pie tin - keep.  That tin foil that was falling apart - keep.  That plastic top to a jar you couldn't find - keep.  Newspapers from last month - keep.  Pencils too short to hold on to: keep.  Pens that didn't work: keep.

And there was an accessory to the hoarding: stacking.  My grandmother was a stacker.  There were piles of things everywhere.  Not a clear surface in sight: Newspapers.  Bills. Catalogs. Receipts. Drawings from grandchildren.  You know - treasures.

But family treasures are not really what I wanted to talk about today.  It's the hoards of family treasures as opposed to the hordes of family.  So let's look at hoards and hordes:

Hoard: collection or accumulation or amassment of something usually of special value or utility that is put aside for preservation of safekeeping or future use often in a greedy or miserly or otherwise unreasonable manner and that is often kept hidden or as if hidden; a supply or stock or fund of something that is stored up and closely and often jealously guarded <a hoard of money> <a hoard of provisions> <a hoard of facts> often : treasure <dug up a hoard of gold and jewels> <a hoard of old coins>

Horde: an unorganized or loosely organized mass of individuals : a vast number : crowd, swarm, agglomeration <circling hordes of mixed insects — B.J.Haimes> <unpolluted … by their brief contact with the touristic horde — Arnold Bennett> <hordes of Irish … came to the American shore — American Guide Series: New York> <most companies today take hordes of pictures — W.B.Eidson>

Maybe the easiest way to remember the difference is to think of the e in horde with the e in people.   After all, you don't want to hoard people, do you?


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