I used to be all about the sentimental. Any scrap, photo, or otherwise potentially significant doodad was something I wanted to save. Once, in high school, after a play I had been in ended, I arranged the program, a piece of my costume, and some congratulatory flowers into a little array and took an ENTIRE ROLL of pictures of it, so that I could have “memories.” I still have the petals from the very first rose I ever received from a boy, now crumpled and brittle in a jar in my bedroom in my parents’ house.

Nothing like a big move to knock that sentimentality right out of you, I tell ya. Front page of college newspaper from day I graduated? Toss it. Rather ugly faux-silver serving tray we received for our wedding that we are NEVER going to use? Salvation Army, here we come. File of homemade birthday and holiday cards from my students back when I was a teacher? Recycle! By the end of the move, we were throwing away spare change because we didn’t have any place to pack it. (Please don’t report us to the government for currency destruction.)

My grandmother, who is my only remaining living grandparent, has a deep and profound love for overly precious figurines. In her house, she has dozens and dozens of little porcelain girls, four to eight inches high, all doing something sweet like gathering strawberries or looking shyly down at their little porcelain shoes, all with names like “Precious Angel” or “Sweet Pea.” Because my grandmother is 90, she has gotten to the phase where she has started giving her grandchildren things from her house. By the time we moved out of our old place a couple weeks ago, we had accumulated at least 3 or 4 of these little china figurines. Suffice it to say that they are profoundly not our style, so after consulting with my friends Bird and Mason, who both assured me that I was not duty-bound to keep them, particularly if there was no chance grandma was ever going to visit our house (she isn’t,) I gave them to the Salvation Army.

I felt a little guilty about it. After all, the only purpose of these things is to act as sentimental knick-knacks, and it’s not my grandmother’s fault that I am simply unable to muster the will to be sentimental about a little china girl called “Precious Posy.” But I got over it, partly because it seemed better to give them to someone who would want them, plus we weren’t really honoring my grandmother’s gesture by snickering between ourselves at how ridiculous they were whenever we noticed them on their high shelf in our old place. In the end, I was happy to be rid of them.

But I spoke too soon. Last week, for my birthday, my grandmother sent me Little Violet (pictured). Gah. Unlike some of the other previous gifts, Little Violet is new, and has a return sticker on her from Macy’s. “Would I go to hell,” I wondered, “if I exchanged Little Violet for a new eyeliner and some moisturizer?”

So I went on a website and looked up Little Violet’s retail price, to see if her exchange value would be enough to purchase a new jar of the absurdly expensive Clinique moisturizing lotion that I love and that John pretends to have no interest in (“I don’t use girly products”) but keeps STEALING, necessitating more frequent purchases.

Holy hell. Little Violet cost TWO HUNDRED SOMETHING DOLLARS.

I had no idea these little porcelain gestures from my grandmother were actually absurdly generous porcelain gestures from my grandmother. Which leaves me in a quandary: am I now obligated to try to recapture the sentimentality of my youth and place Little Violet in some place of honor in our new apartment? Would I really be indulging my inner asshole if I, say, exchanged Little Violet for some moisturizer, a cute new pair of summer shoes, and maybe a sundress?

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