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Find New Hobbies at the Library


 "Coins…As a Hobby"], Digital ID 1252872, New York Public LibraryMy father was a fan of George Bernard Shaw, and I myself firmly believe in the wisdom of the quote often misattributed to Mr. Shaw, "Youth is wasted on the young." This adage, as well as my late father's utter exasperation when I refused to heed his wise counsel, which was a product of a combination of his prescience and a long life of various experiences, came full circle when I recently received a telephone call from my sixteen year old niece, Amanda.

Postage stamps., Digital ID 1648330, New York Public LibraryAfter expressing my shock at receiving communication from my niece that was not of the avant l'heure kind, Amanda sighed into the receiver and quipped, "Since you apparently haven't been on Facebook for over a week, you left me with no alternative," in a tone suggesting that my dearth of online activity was on par to causing her to trek miles over frozen tundra to my abode, stand on my doorstep, bundled up against the winter chill, megaphone clutched in one of her frostbitten hands, shouting at the top of her lungs to secure my attention. Ignoring Amanda's dramatic description of my temporary hiatus from Facebook, I immediately inquired if all was well. This prompted another sigh from my niece, who then stated with a tone of total disgust, "I don't know WHAT to buy for my father for Christmas! Since you are his sister, and have been around for a long, long, long, lon—"

"I understand, Amanda," I interjected, my ego finally not being to contain itself any longer. "Yes, well, do you have any suggestions as to what I can buy for Daddy?" Several less than polite (albeit highly humorous) suggestions readily leapt to my mind, which I managed to suppress. "Well, Amanda, January is National Hobby Month. I think purchasing a hobby related item for your father would serve the dual purpose of providing you with a holiday gift for your father whilst aiding in fighting off the winter doldrums that some are plagued with concomitant with the arrival of every January, the denouement after all of that holiday fanfare."

Amanda actually conceded that her antediluvian aunt provided her with a good suggestion before inquiring concerning what sort of hobby her father might enjoy. "Well, Amanda, the NYPL has a literal plethora of books concerning a diverse array of hobbies, both indoor as well as outdoor. Additionally, we have magazines in our circulating collection such as Crafts, Better Homes and Gardens and Cooking Light that might aid in furtherance of ascertaining a hobby that your father might enjoy. And, in fact, the branch where I work has an adult knitting and crocheting group that convenes every Wednesday afternoon. Other branches have activities such as bridge playing clubs, scrapbooking groups, zumba, yoga—all free of charge!" Because my niece and nephew are already apparently firmly of the mind that I was a classmate of Benjamin Franklin, I did not dare risk delving into the many hobbies that have a rich historical basis. Button collecting is a hobby that enjoys the devotion of modern adherents every bit as much as those items were admired and coveted by Victorian women who delighted every time a father, uncle or other relative returned from a seafaring journey, providing a button from a far-flung destination to the fortunate recipient.

Coins., Digital ID 1648366, New York Public LibrarySensing that my niece was still prevaricating over the matter, with much trepidation, I decided to offer a suggestion. "Maybe your father would enjoy becoming a numismatist," I tentatively suggested to my niece. "Hey, that's a great idea! Daddy is always complaining concerning how much of his money I expend on clothing and shoes! If he starts collecting coins, he's less apt to be upset when I hand him the coinage left over from my shopping sprees! Thanks, auntie! Gotta go—I'm off to purchase that gorgeous new sweater that I saw in the store window the other day! After all, it is the season for giving, and I have to assist Daddy in starting his coin collection!" Somehow, I think my brother will have preferred a gift of a button collection instead.

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