It all started with my mother’s yard sale. She and my dad have decided to downsize, which means parting with enough home décor to furnish a small country. My mother lives to decorate. She is the knick knack queen. She’s made decorations out of things that most people would consider small appliances. There are cows in designer suits, bears with dresses, candles wrapped in flowers, French writing on walls, wine glasses wrapped in sparkly stuff. You name, she’s given it a make over. Because she practices decoration diversity, style classification is sketchy, at best. Because of its Midwestern regional connotations, ‘knick knack’ works well. ‘What-not’ sounds like tools and spools of thread and ‘bric-a-brac’ sounds like ceramic frogs and mug holders.
If I said ‘bagatelle’ or ‘furbelow,’ those sound more exotic, right? Or, how about this- if my husband Kevin came home and said, “Honey I found the perfect bagatelle for you today,” I would think, wow, he must have bought me a Faberge egg or something. If, however, he came home and said, “Honey, I bought you some flummery, today, I would have to assume he’d been shopping at the medical supply store again. The same goes for ‘kickshaw’ and ‘gewgaw’. (I’m serious, look at a thesaurus).
Anyway, my mom was making a list of items that we, the kids wanted to keep. On the list my sister-in-law had written DIBS. D-I-B-S. What does this word that sounds like a burp, possibly mean? And why has it risen to international significance, much like the universal sign for, “I need the Heimlich maneuver.”
Dibs is nothing more than the grown up version of “Mine!” Yet, it’s an acceptable form of litigation!
Isn’t that what most of life boils down to, who has first dibs? Leftover pizza? Dibs! Grandma’s antiques? Dibs! Child custody? Dibs! The Alamo? Dibs! Israel and Palestine? Dibs!
This past Sunday, I was sitting in a church we were visiting, trying to wrap my head around what the pastor was explaining as he was baptizing an infant. He said the baptism sacrament is not intended to wash away sins. It was intended to signify that child as being a child of a believer. The parents were dedicating the child to God, to be raised in the teaching of this specific church. So what does it boil down to?? I swear to you, all I could think about was DIBS!
It’s a weird tradition when you stop and consider the meaning that one odd sounding word has on our culture. It’s almost as funny as saying you’re having a yard sale because you’ve collected a lot of gimcrack.