From wikipedia.com the definition of souvenir reads like this:
A souvenir (from French, for memory) is an object a traveler brings home for the memories associated with it. Souvenirs include clothing such as T-shirts or hats, and household items such as mugs and bowls, ashtrays, egg timers, spoons and notepads.
My definition of souvenir is a piece of junk that is over priced, manufactured in a third world country, and usually breaks before you get it home.
About a month ago, a lady in the office where I worked traveled to Hawaii. She was thoughtful by giving all the employees a souvenir of her trip. Each of us received a key chain shaped like a Hawaiian shirt encased in plastic. Now I don't know about you, but for me you never have enough key chains. Chances are that I'll never use this key chain though. It is hanging on the key rack in the kitchen. Like most souvenirs, it's something I could live without.
It's been quite a few years since we visited Disney world in Orlando. I still recall many of the families walking around the theme park with Mickey/Minnie Mouse hats on their heads. If you were lucky, you had your name monogrammed on the backside of the hat. It is safe to say that after you left Disney World you would no longer be wearing your mouse ears. You would look like a royal dweeb if you went to school wearing your hat. Even bragging about getting a Mickey Mouse hat would cause your friends to snicker.
In my own life, I can recall two instances where I was the recipient of a souvenir. My younger brother and I convinced our parents that we wanted tom-toms during our vacation trip to Niagara Falls. After badgering our parents until they caved, we both were granted our wish of getting tom-toms as souvenirs. The tom-toms seemed to be made with used coffee cans and stretchy rubber on either end. The rubber was probably from a car tire inner tube. We really didn't care how they were made. The only thing we cared about was the sound of our dueling tom-toms. I'm sure we caused many headaches on the way home, but both my brother and I had smiles on our faces.
The other occurrence was a train trip to Cleveland. My two Aunts took my cousin and I to see Gene Autry and his horse. My cousin and I dressed like cowboys for this event. We coaxed our Aunts into buying us rifles that shot out a piece of cork when you pulled the trigger. The cork was affixed to the barrel of the gun with a long string. Needless to say, we terrorized many people on the long train ride home.
Yes, souvenirs do create vivid memories of our younger years. But on the other hand so do photographs. So the next time you take a trip remember to take your camera and forget the souvenirs.