Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Use the China!

I grew up in a house where my siblings and I both loved and feared our parents. We knew if we needed them because we were scared of something, they'd open their arms in a heart beat and snuggle us 'til we pushed them away. We also knew that if we did something stupid, our parents would hunt us down like rabid dogs and, my favorite saying growing up, "Break our legs in six places and we'd never walk again!". (Yup, tough love.)

My parents ruled with a no-nonsense approach. If we did something bad, we'd be punished. Plain and simple. If we even thought of acting up in public, we'd be dead; just for the thought! Let alone if we actually were dumb enough to ACT on it! They taught us that hard work equals great rewards and that a home cooked meal can never be duplicated in a restaurant. 

One of my favorite things they did with us while growing up was Sunday dinners in the dining room. Say Whaaaaa?? Yes, my parents actually USED the dining room more than just for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Even with three kids. Sunday night, you parked your butt in that chair and we ate with the silver (which we polished earlier in the day) on the fine China (which we had to hand clean afterwards because they couldn't go in the dishwasher...)

I received an email earlier today from my dad that read: "OK my Children….how many times have I told you this very thing.  Y’all thought I was nuts for using sterling every day!"

Here's the email:
 We all know someone who keeps plastic covers on his or her couch in order to protect it. The irony is that many of these people may live their lives without ever having actually made contact with their own furniture! This is a poignant and somewhat humorous example of the human tendency to try to save things for special occasions, as if everyday life weren’t special enough to warrant the use of nice things. Many of us have had the experience of never wearing a particular piece of clothing in order to keep it nice, only to have it go out of style in the meanwhile.

It’s interesting to think of what it would mean to us if we let ourselves wear our nicest clothes and eat off the good china on a daily basis. We might be sending ourselves the message that every day we are alive is a special day and a cause for celebration, and that we are worth it. There is something uplifting about treating ourselves to the finest of what we have. It is as if we rise to the occasion when we wear our best clothes and set the table beautifully, as if for a very special guest. We are more mindful of where we place things, what we are eating, and who is with us. Using the good china, eating in the dining room, and taking the plastic off the sofa might be an invitation to be more conscious of the beauty and grace inherent in our everyday lives.

If there are things you’ve stashed away for a special occasion—a bottle of special wine, a gorgeous pair of shoes, an antique lace tablecloth—consider taking them out of their hiding places and putting them to use tonight, just because you are alive now to enjoy them, and that’s a great cause for a celebration.

While I'm reading the email I can't help but laugh. I know too many people who live their lives like this. They are the "Take your shoes off at the door" people. Or the, "we have beautiful wine glasses, but we use these instead". 

For our wedding we received beautiful wine goblets, four are clear crystal, four are colored (one purple- my fav! red, blue and green). For the longest time I wouldn't pull out the colored crystal because I wanted to save it. Or make it more of a special-type of glass. Well, we started using them and guess what? My favorite glass ended up having a little ding in it. At first I was totally bummed out and wanted to see about replacing the whole colored set, and then I realized, that little ding happened while among my friends. It happened while I was enjoying myself and my company and a great glass of wine. Why should I want to replace it?

My point is that we should use all the pretty things in our lives more often. Otherwise, what's the point in having them? My goblet now has history. (Even if I can't remember the details of it clearly...)