We just moved to a new house and I was so happy that we inherited a refrigerator with a magnet-friendly door from the past owners. No sterile, stainless steel, magnet-resistant fridge door for me. No sir! Centuries from now when archeologists dig around to learn more about our culture, I’m convinced it won’t be the computers at Norad nor the Space Center in Houston that will attract most of their attention. No, rather they’ll all gather around tables examining decayed construction paper or bits of ceramic magnets as they attempt to understand the hub of communication in our society—the refrigerator door.
Whenever I’m a guest in someone’s home I love gazing at their refrigerator door because that spot, more than any other, tells the story of their family. Families with young children have the most colorful and crowded refrigerator doors, with construction paper art, magnetic alphabet letters, and reminders about school activities, dental appointments, or soccer games. (Thanks to daughter-in-law Abigail McConnell for sending the photo of their family refrigerator above!)
For years I didn’t have any watercolor ponies or construction paper ladybugs on my refrigerator, and I really missed them. Finally, the grandkids were old enough to create refrigerator art for us. Then fairy princesses with ruffly dresses and long eyelashes and stick people families were held in place on our refrigerator by magnets reading, “My Grandchild Did This.” Heaven forbid a grandchild who visited us then didn’t see one of his or her creations hung in the refriga-gallery.
Given the use of refrigerators as art galleries and message centers, it’s no wonder refrigerator magnets are such hot-selling items in gift shops across the country. I gave up long ago trying to have any sort of design theme with mine, although I understand collectors of certain types of magnets are very serious about their choices. Magnet-backed photo holders are often my choice. We have one whole side of our refrigerator dedicated to family photos in magnet-backed acrylic frames, and our adult children still check to make sure they are well represented when they visit. It’s almost as if they believe if they aren’t on the refrigerator, they might not still exist. Otherwise our magnet assortment includes a few hummingbirds with broken beaks, a ceramic taco, message magnets reading, “Some Bunny Loves You” and “Slow me down, Lord,” and lots of advertisements for everything from pizza to dry cleaning. The archeologists will be hard put to understand what mattered most to us when they dig all this up!
On our old fridge, magnets that weren’t used for artwork held up invitations to special events, cartoons we particularly liked, or newspaper clippings. (I knew I was a real newspaper columnist when someone told me she had clipped one of my columns and put it on her refrigerator. Wow! Whatever else I write, I’ve already earned my spot in the annals of our civilization.)
All our magnets went into a plastic sandwich bag when we moved, so our recently acquired fridge is a “blank page” at this point. But this fall I’m sure I’ll post schedules of our favorite football teams and grandkids’ sporting events. From there the story will continue. What about you? What story does your refrigerator door tell about your life and your family? Make it a good one.
This blog post also appeared in an issue of The Country Register in the US and Canada. Pick up a copy at your local antique or crafts store!