“Tchotchke” is a Yiddish word that refers to small decorative items and random bric-a-brac found in homes. Look on your shelves and in your cupboards and in the boxes in your basement, and you’ll find tchotchkes galore.
The problem with tchotchkes is that they tend to . . . accumulate. Consider, for example, the number of flower vases that might be found in your home. You start with the solid foundation of vases you received from parents, and then add the vases that came with past birthday or Valentine’s Day arrangements–vases that you just couldn’t quite bring yourself to dispose of, and decided to keep, just in case–and you soon find yourself in a position where you open a cupboard in search of something and find it packed with more vases than you could possibly use, even if you had the world’s most prolific flower garden and were hosting a high tea for the Queen of England. The clear path of least resistance at that point is to shake your head in bemused wonderment, close the cupboard door, and promptly forget about the random vase collection until the next time you stumble across it.
That is the life cycle of any tchotchke, be it a flower vase or a porcelain pig or an ornamental box of indefinite purpose. Once a tchotchke crosses the threshold of a home, it typically achieves a kind of inanimate immortality. It might gather dust or be stashed in a box, but it will remain firmly embedded in the household unless and until someone decides that enough is enough and it is time to address the proliferation of vases and other constituent members of the household tchotchke assembly. But where do you dispose of flower vases? It makes you suspect that the vases you got from your parents way back when might not have been a simple generous gesture after all, but instead were part of their own effort to de-tchotchkify.
This week, we’re engaged in a full-scale tchotchke recycling effort. We’re hoping to find homes for the flower vases and other items in our random assortment of tchotchkes. Surely, somewhere out there, people are yearning for vases that could kick-start their own vase collection?