January 13, 2010

Some Things Are Not Meant To Be Saved


Fine China

This title begets many ideas, but what I’d like to share with you is the thought that some things in our house are ‘sacred’ and are saved for special occasions.  As with many women, when I got married I registered for all kinds of fancy things.  This was my new life and I wanted to have all the niceties that I’d seen in every bridal magazine.  I read every page and every article soaking up information.  I needed fine china and sterling flatware.  And it wouldn’t be complete without the crystal stemware.  Oh, and I’ll need some gorgeous china and crystal and other serving pieces.  Then there were the linens and the towels, not to mention every possible appliance I could click the scanner at while filling my time with the lady  in the registry department.

That was 15 years ago and I still remember most of the things on the registry.  It was such an exciting time and I truly felt like a kid in a candy store.  Growing up my mom didn’t use the fine china very often.  The lace tablecloth and the beautiful linens spent nearly every moment neatly folded in the closet.  I would take out a cup when my mom wasn’t home and I’d pretend I was having a fancy tea.  And I’d do everything I could to make sure she never knew about it.  Then I broke a cup!  I quickly glued it back together but my 8-year old glue skills were not as precise as they needed to be on that day.  She quickly found my attempt at fixing her china.  It was never discussed other than I was told never to touch them again.  So here I was, left with only the few special occasions each year when the family would all gather at my grandparents house and we’d have our festive meal on the ‘good dishes’.

I never understood why we had this giant cabinet with all these beautiful dishes on display but we never used them.  My grandmother had several sets of china and crystal, some of it I have never seen used.  So why do we have this stuff if we’re going to save it?  Why do we spend the money if we’re only going to look at it.  It’s not the Mona Lisa!  Sure, it’s beautiful.  But it’s made to be functional.  It has a purpose.  And, interestingly, fine china will become brittle and deteriorate if you don’t use.  But, still, we put it in the big beautiful china cabinet and let it sit there.  And we look at it and occasionally drag it out as if it were obligatory.

And it’s not just the china and crystal.  We have a lot of things that we’re saving.  Saving for Someday.  The ‘nice’ jewelry gets saved and never worn.  We buy clothes to wear to just the right occasion, except we never wear it and the garments hangs, mockingly, in the closet with the tags still attached.  I have several really nice pens — Waterman, Mont Blanc, Shaffer — but I use the freebie, cheapo pens that come in the mail or the swag pens I pick up at different events.  Why?  I’ve spent the money on these nice pens but instead of using them I’m digging through my purse for the latest cheap, plastic, run of the mill pen.

One of the key aspects of being frugal or thrifty is using what you have to its full potential.  Saving isn’t about depriving yourself of the beautiful things in your life.  It’s about making choice regarding what you have.  Having things simply to have them is truly a waste of money.  The ‘nice’ things we have in our homes give us joy.  They bring back memories or help us make new one.  Some things aren’t meant to be saved.  They’re not meant to be pushed back into a closet or hidden behind a glass door only to be pulled out on ‘special’ occasions.  Isn’t every day special?  Who said we can’t have PB&J on the fine china?  Who said I can’t write out my shopping list with an expensive pen?

Shortly after I got married, I was visiting my Auntie (my grandma’s older sister).  She and my uncle had been married about 50 years and their house was full of all kinds of finery.  She spent most of her days shuttling between doctors or visiting with friends but she was always dressed so nicely and wore beautiful jewelry.  At their house that evening she didn’t serve anything fancy.  But when we sat down I noticed that the ‘good china’ was on the table and she was bringing the green beans in a beautiful deep-cut crystal bowl.  I asked if it was a special occasion and she told me it was — that my husband I were there for dinner.  Now, I loved my Auntie but that seemed very sappy coming from her.

After dinner, while helping to clean up, we talked and laughed and had a great time.  Then she took me aside and said she wanted to talk to me.  She told me that the green beans came from a can and that the chicken was left over from the night before.  So, then, I asked, why did she take the time to use the crystal and the fine china.   My auntie told me that no matter how much money I would have in life that there is nothing that tells someone that you love them and they are special like treating them well.  She also told me that regardless of what I had to serve, be it potatoes from a box or a bowl of cereal, it will always taste better when it’s served in something nice.  She told me that no matter how horrible I felt that if I put on ‘the nice’ bra and panties that all of a sudden may day would fell better.  She told me that some things were not meant to be saved.  And she was right!

Perhaps it’s cliche, or old fashioned.  Maybe she was waxing nostalgic?   She was, after all,  in her 70s at that point.  I have to tell you I only partially listened to what she told me.  To this day I have plenty of things in my house that haven’t been used in quite some time.  But the one thing I do have that does get used often is that cut-crystal bowl that served the canned green beans.  I don’t like canned green bean.  Never have.  But, on that day, I did.  For whatever reason, they tasted better served in that beautiful bowl.

I urge you to look around your house and your closet and those secret hiding places and find those items that you are Saving for Someday and start using them.  Use them because they deserve to be used.  Use them because they are beautiful.  And if you need a reason, just remember what my auntie told me — it will make you feel good to share these beautiful things with people you love.  Use them, because some thing aren’t meant to be saved.


{ 1 comment }

Honey May 20, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Hi Sara,

Yet another great treasure to be found on your blog. Wow! I feel like I need to go around my house and see what needs to be used and loved (rather than hidden in a closet). Thank you for directing me to this article.


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