A few years ago, I attended a memorial service for a co-worker's sister who had passed away unexpectedly in her early 30's. This woman had two young children and an adoring husband, and I remember my co-worker telling me that her sister had just that past weekend made an amazing holiday dinner (it had been Easter I think) and had served it on her “good wedding dishes”, using them for the first time ever, even though she had been married for more than 5 years. And I remember my co-worker, in all of her grief, looking me in the eye and telling me “Don't wait to use your good dishes.”
All these years later, those words have stuck with me. Because I think so often we look at some of the beautiful belongings that we have in our lives, and we put them away- place them high up on a shelf or deep in the back of a closet, and we “save them” for a “special day”. These items are so beautiful and so precious to us, that we worry more about losing them, than using them. And yes, I know that with young children in the house, special plates can be broken, and delicate linens can be ruined. But is it truly better to have them stored away where you can't see them and where they can't bring you the simple joy of just looking at them?
Case in point… when we traveled to China four years ago to bring home our youngest son Alex, the city of Hangzhou had this amazing silk market where my family spent a fantastic morning shopping. There was a wide cobblestone street that ran the length of the market that was closed to traffic, and every so often there was a bench where you could sit and rest. In order to shop with 6 kids under age 8 (at the time), one parent would just move the kids from bench to bench while the other would browse inside of the shops. Upon finding a treasure, Steve and I would switch places and one of us would go in to negotiate with the shopkeeper while the other was on kid-entertainment-duty. In one shop I remember seeing these beautiful silk duvets and pillow covers displayed up on the wall- and so I sent Steve into the store to see if he could figure out how big they were (would they work on a king-sized bed I wondered) and to see if he could get a good deal. And while I sat outside with the kids, Steve would occasionally come out of the shop and show me a duvet cover or a pillowcase t get my opinion- should we get the olive green or the vibrant orange? How about these pillow cases? And so on. In the same shop he fell in love with some beautiful silk paintings on scrolls that showed the city of Hangzhou in all 4 seasons… and I knew that we wouldn't be leaving without those paintings either!
My brother and his son were traveling with us on this trip too… and if you know my brother, you know that he is a die-hard shopper! So before long, Steve and Brian were negotiating for all kinds of things- trying to strike a “big bargain”. Calculators were being passed back and forth, more merchandise was being brought out for them to peruse, and other shopkeepers were coming out of the store with small toys and trinkets to help me entertain the kids. This store owner knew he had some “live ones” and he wasn't letting us get away! It was such a fun experience! And when Steve and Brian finally exited the store with bags full of paintings, linens, and who-knows-what-else everyone was grinning. I am sure my husband and brother thought they got the deal of a lifetime… and the shopkeeper was thrilled with his big sale. (And shortly thereafter we went shopping for additional luggage so that we could get it all home!)
But when we returned home from China, I put those beautiful silk duvets away in the linen closet. I mean… we had all of these little kids- some of which whom routinely slept in our bed with us at night! How could I ever allow them around a silk duvet?
Four years later…. I finally thought about those duvet covers and put one of them on our bed. And it is spectacular. This bright orange duvet changes colors in the light- sometimes becoming a sunshine yellow and other times a deep amber. I love it!
Is there a good chance that someone is going to spill something on it and I'll need to rescue it from ruin? Yes, of course (and it probably won't be one of the kids!) But to not use it….. well, it's like saving your good dishes. And after Sandy Hook, I hope that we all know how important it is to live in the present moment, and not put off our enjoyment of life for a time in the future.
What do you have at your home that you are saving and not using?