joankingWe’ve all heard stories of the sometimes strange items children deem special to bring from home for show and tell at school. But what special items would adults furnish?

At a women’s group meeting at our parish recently, we were asked to bring two of our favorite things to the next meeting, plus two favorite foods for the food pantry. It sounded like an easy enough task to enable a discussion program.

But, actually picking out only two things was more difficult than expected. There are so many favorites – hobbies, pictures, jewelry, mementos. As you look around the room you’re in, what would you choose?

Questions asked before making a decision included: What do I use almost every day? Is this an item I like to keep with me? Would I carry this with me when I leave home? The answers prompted a wide variety of items – practical, sentimental, comical. There were a few tears during the evening, but a lot of talk and laughter as everyone was eager to share the story that accompanied the item.

A favorite piece of jewelry given years ago by a now-deceased husband was passed around and admired. There was an antique spice cupboard, handmade by a relative, with small drawers where the aroma of cinnamon, cloves and ginger lingered. A handmade quilt worked on with a dear friend, also now deceased, was admired for its intricate craftsmanship. A nativity set with a handmade crib had been in one family for several generations and was always the centerpiece of the home at Christmas. One woman brought a case of small knitting needles that she kept in her purse to pass any waiting time. Another showed her two favorite baking pans.

Laughter greeted the person who produced a lightweight carpet sweeper and a popular collapsible mop. The woman claimed she couldn’t live without these. She used the sweeper daily to keep all her floors tidy and then gave the bare floors a weekly mop-up. Another everyday item was Cling Wrap, an improvement on the more familiar cellophane kitchen wrap, which one young woman could not live without. She used it to cover sippy cups for the young children and all types of to-go articles that could easily spill.

It was fascinating to see what others treasured, but also to share memories. The variety was amazing. What added to the fun and the camaraderie  was the insight and inspiration provided by these casual acquaintances.

What were my favorites? My decision was a rosary from Peru, made from black and red native seeds (but with a cross marked “Italy”), kept in a coat pocket for emergency use and a cloth shopping bag imprinted with family pictures.

Afterthoughts would have included a punch pass to a local health club, a much- appreciated Christmas gift, to use for warm water aerobics class three times a week. On a side note, after a few weeks it is disappointing that the body “toning” is working, but the pounds are not coming off, but that could be due to two other favorites – ice cream and dark chocolate.

It would be intriguing to have someone analyze the types of items brought in. How do they reflect the person? But, we weren’t looking for deep or hidden meanings or psychological insights. It was meant to be fun – and it was.

It’s an idea for a summer family picnic or get-together – bring a favorite family item. All could enjoy the fun. No wonder show-and-tell time was – and is – so popular at schools.

What are your two favorite things?

(King, a member of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Parish, North Lake, is married to Thomas. They have seven children, 17 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.)

Things to do

  • Lent begins in less than two weeks with Ash Wednesday on Feb. 22. The Redemptorist Retreat Center, 1800 N. Timber Trail Lane, Oconomowoc, offers a Day of Prayer on Ash Wednesday. The day will begin with registration at 9:30 a.m. and end with a 3 p.m. Mass. The $15 fee includes lunch. To pre-register call (262) 567-6900. Walk-ins welcome.
  • The Alzheimer’s Association will sponsor a Wisconsin Advocacy Day in Madison on Wednesday, March 7, providing education, programs and support. Check its website at Its helpline is available 24/7 at (800) 272-3900.
  • Keep up with the latest “Choose Life” news at or call to receive their newsletter.