Monday, January 23, 2012

Refrigerator Dream Catcher

I have had this and most people I know have too. A collection of things, usually drawings from one of your kids that leave a lot for interpetation, plastered by magnets on the front of your refrigerator.

Maybe you have photos on yours, notes about the next dental appointment or parent teacher meeting. If you're trying to diet, you might have a message like, "Warning: opening this refrigerator could effect the outcome of your health!!!", or if you just made dessert for the Wednesday night church banquet and don't want anyone to eat it, "Anyone who DARES to touch the Peanut Butter Fudge Delight, will incur the Wrath of Mom! May the Good Lord help you!", might be written in red on a small white board.

Why do people use the refrigerator as a means to express their childrens artistic talents, as a message board or place to show off a collection of magnets they've picked up from every city, state or historical landmark they have ever visited? Who first invented this idea and where did the first refrigerator magnet come from?

I'll start with the last question first since the majority of items posted on the fridge are more than likely done with a magnet of some sort.

Upon googling "refrigerator magnet", I was sent to many sites that sold them so I added the word "history" and still did not come up with any better results. Wikipedia had no dates as to when these things came into existence but did share the differences in styles and how they went from common cylindrical or solid rectangular magnets to a flexible magnet, composed of a high-coercivity ferromagnetic compound (usually ferric oxide) mixed with a plastic binder, whatever any of that means! I also found out that there are people who collect these things and have over 30,000 of them. They must have a very large refrigerator!

I myself have had quite a collection of magnets in the past, everything from a boring one with a clippy to hold several items at once to the more interesting "quote" magnet with the important saying, "...nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE...".

To answer the first question of why people stick all of this stuff on their refrigerators, I can only say it could be another retail trick to prop up the sale of magnets by the creation of a fad. Afterall, what else do we actually use magnets for? The only time I can recall ever using one was in my second or maybe my third grade class as we learned about magnetic poles!

When my children were learning their ABC's, we had magnetic alphabet letters plastered all over the front of the bottom of our refrigerator door. I'm sure many of you remember them and may still have a few left holding up the trash bill today. You probably found the letter "y" that had been missing for years, underneath the bottom tray buried in a giant dust bunny, which if cleaned much earlier would have kept your children from constantly asking "why" z at the end of the song (at this point you will be compelled to sing the alphabet song and I'm sorry if you are reading this while in public). The Freezer door, which was at the top of our old refrigerator, always held the notes of anything important we needed to remember. Since the ice cream was kept there, it was a sure bet no one in our household would ever miss an important appointment.

The children grew up and moved away and soon the many pieces of proudly displayed art and A+ math tests were replaced by photos of much enjoyed vacations and yes, matching travel magnets. The clip that once held parental signature slips for school outings now holds a variety of favorite recipes. But something new has just been added; something that came from a story that inspired me. Allow me to share.

I was at a business convention once and heard a gentleman speak of how he had amassed great wealth. He had been looking for a way to just get ahead in life, pay his bills and not feel broke every day, (this was BDR , Before Dave Ramsey). Someone had suggested he focus on one thing that he could acheive over a period of one to two years. If he could think about this one thing on a daily basis, it might propel him in the right direction. For him, it would be a monetary item; something he would need to save for. He chose a very expensive sportscar that he had seen on the cover of a magazine and although he had never dreamed he could ever make the kind of money to buy a car like that, he was encouraged to always think that anything is possible. 

He tore off the front page of the magazine with the photo of the car and placed it on the door of his refrigerator where it was a daily reminder for him to see. As weeks and months went by, he pushed himself to work harder at his job and even took on extra work as a night janitor to pay off all of his bills. He prayed daily that God would give him the strength to keep going and smiled each time he opened his refrigerator door. Due to his hard work, he had been given a promotion at his job and had been able to pay off all of his debt, allowing him to save the money from his night job. Then almost a year to the day that he had first seen that sportscar photo, he was at a used sportscar dealership with enough money in the bank to meet his goal. To his surprise, there on the dealership floor was the exact same sportscar that he had looked at every day on the torn cover placed on his refrigerator door, the actual car that the magazine article was about and yes, he did purchase it!

I now have a couple of new items added to my refrigerator, a picture of the home I have dreamed of living in for half of my life and the other, a family reunion photo that was taken last year with all of our children and grandchildren surrounding my husband and I. What will you be using your refrigerator magnets for?

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