Thursday, November 25, 2010
Rookie cards, coupons, Thanksgiving
My 1989 Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card by Donruss is worth $11. I’ve had it since I was a kid. The last time I was at my parents’ house, they thrust on me my whole collection of cards, which they had been storing for me since high school. About 10,000 cards — an embarrassing quantity, I know.
The full collection is now on the top shelf of my closet in my bedroom. Some boxes contain sets of every major leaguer in a given year; I collected them one by one, trading duplicates with friends on the school bus and with my brothers in our basement, checking off each card on the list until the set of 800 was complete for the year.
But I wasn’t the one who happened upon the Griffey card this time. The other day, my wife was flipping through a binder full of plastic sheet protectors, each of which contained nine cards protected in perfect condition. These were the cards I had set aside. They had graduated from the boxes and into the plastic pages.
She searched an Internet database to determine how much each card was worth and adhered a yellow Post-It note to the sheet to identify the cards that were worth more than a few bucks.
An Alex Rodriguez Classic Four Sport card from his college days: $12. A Manny Ramirez rookie card: $11. Most of them were worth more like a quarter or less.
The unspoken tension here is that I have agreed to sell the cards. She wants the specialized sheet protectors to organize her coupon clippings, and these pages are the perfect size. It’s time to either buy more sheet protectors, or face the fact that these cards aren’t really going up in value anyway, and they’re taking up a lot of space in the closet.
I shouldn’t hesitate. Buying more sheet protectors wouldn’t cost much, but it’s still wasting money, and who can afford to do that? Besides, if I sell some cards, I could use it for Christmas presents or some other worthy cause.
But I do hesitate. In fact, I whine quietly and unattractively to myself: I wish my wife didn’t have to clip coupons. I wish I could not only keep my cards, but buy more — maybe even start collecting them again with my two sons. And while I’m at it, I wish we didn’t always have to debate for 10 minutes whether we could afford to eat out, or whether we should keep paying for TV.
I know I’m not the only one who has had a pity party like this. It’s pity-party season in Palm Coast because of the impending holidays and all the costs associated with travel and shopping.
But that attitude is poisonous, especially when we consider the families who are truly in need. The antidote to selfishness — and what inevitably inspires us to give and serve — is thanksgiving.
At church, we sometimes sing the song, “Count Your Blessings.” I hope everyone will take time today, on Thanksgiving, to do the same. The act of counting my blessings helps me to remember the simple things I usually overlook when I’m too busy indulging in that ever-present human emotion to long for something better.
I am thankful I have a car that works. I am thankful I have a roof over my head. I’m thankful that when I turn on my faucet, water comes pouring out in abundance. I’m thankful that when I sit down for dinner, my table is spread, my plate is full, my healthy children bow their heads as I offer a prayer of thanksgiving.
NOTE: This column first appeared in The Palm Coast Observer.