May 172011

The following is an article I cut from a magazine years ago and it hangs on my refrigerator.  It changed  my way of thinking; will it yours?

No More waiting-today is good enough

Life is a Special Occasion

The morning of my mother’s funeral I moved mechanically around my childhood home, preparing the house for guests.  A friend had brought a coffee percolator; so I went hunting the corner cabinet for some cups.  What remained was a motley collection:  two plastic mugs, bright orange; the same green pottery mug I remembered Mom bringing to Dad in bed each morning.  Nothing that would do for company. I walked over to the lowboy cabinet just off the kitchen that held my parents wedding china and slid open the door.  The china had a whiff of the forbidden.  The set was eggshell white, the plates, a spare elliptical shape.  I’d never seen it used.  Even for the best company, it was always the rustic brown plates-for friends, for Dad’s clients, for holidays. I thought back to when I’d cleaned out my grandmother’s apartment after her death, discovering a wealth of untouched luxuries: vials of Lanvin perfume, beautiful clothing with tags hanging, endless crystal squirreled away.  All the while, she dressed in threadbare polyester pants and ate off cheap plastic plates. I was not immune to these habits.  My best clothes hung in my closet, waiting for events of great enough consequence. Good wine was never opened-which occasion was weighty enough?  I even had my own unused formal china: the gold-rimmed set for 12 I had rescued from my grandmother’s place.  It had gone from her dark cabinet to mine, still waiting. I knew I was breaking some sort of rule now as I reached into my parents lowboy. I removed the fragile cups two by two and arranged them carefully on the counter.  Dad had been wandering around the yard, lost in thought.  Now the door slammed as he strode inside.  He looked at the counter.  “Not those,” he started to say.  He picked up one of the cups and looked at it.  In that moment, we both had the same realization:  whatever we’d been saving them for was never going to happen.  He put the cup down and walked out of the room.  The first night after returning home, I made dinner for my family, then set the table with my grandmother’s green, yellow and gold china.  No occasion, no guests-just my husband, me and our 3-year old daughter, eating a decidedly ordinary meal of roast chicken and sweet potatoes.  And I noticed something:  Finally using those plates made them seem less imposing, and yet more special. They became something truly useful and beautiful  Now I put out that set of china whenever the mood strikes.  Because always saving one’s best things for a better day, a different day, carries with it a judgment:  that the life you’re living right this moment doesn’t count; that it isn’t good enough.  And I’ve decided that it is.

My thanks to Erin Patrick for helping get this into a format that could be shared with you, please visit her at All moms should read her post “The Greener Grass is Astro Turf” it is an awesome article.


  18 Responses to “Life Is A Special Occasion”

  1. I too was a “saver” of the good stuff until my dad died. He had told me over and over again that life was to enjoy and so what if I wore something out?

    The day he died I put the set of Wedgwood in the every day dish cabinet and they’ve been used every day since. I took my silk nightgowns out of the storage box and I’ve nearly worn one out. I have no regrets whatsoever.

    My mother has recently died and it was with joy that I heard the news that my mother had done the same thing. Used everything. I would have felt bad if she’d saved things for “someday” – at 91 it probably wasn’t going to come.

    Thanks for this post.

    • Maureen, thanks so much for the comment. You are carrying the idea out in all things not just in the kitchen and I need to do that as well. For instance my favorite shoes and clothes (what if rains or I get something on them) The hubby is like your dad, so what enjoy and they are both right. Of course we both know there are a few times when it doesnt make sense to use something (say to paint) but typically it wouldn’t hurt a thing. Thanks again you have touched me and I think today starts my carrying the motto out of the kitchen and to the rest of my life!

  2. I never save anything. I think I have opposite issue. I let my kids touch just about everything and play with my kitchen things. I never buy plates that are expensive, because that’s just asking for them to break. I buy semi cheap wine hours before drinking, and I have absolutely no hand me downs form grand parents or parents. perhaps they had the same issue and bough cheap stuff and broke stuff too. Lovely post! Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Kate, thanks for commenting. I buy alot of my things from garage sales and thrift stores and find alot of great buys. I am frugal at best and still had the save attitude until I read that article. As my hubby commented I still do that with shoes and purses etc. always afraid the rain or weather or what I am doing that day might ruin something only to find that I never get to enjoy my fun things. I am working on changing that habit now. I only have a few things from grandparents and parents and I do use those instead of protecting them, even the kids were allowed to use them…thats part of the fun of being in the kitchen for us.

      • oh my goodness, I have so many typos in that coment! Oh! *note to self put baby down before typing*

        I should totally do that! Garage sales and Craig’s list…. Great idea for dishes and kitchen gadgets and appliances and things. I’m great with saving money (actual dollars and cents). But, for whatever reason it doesn’t translate into objects for me.

        My husband is that way… Very delicate with precious things that are dear to him. I sometimes tease him for it too, because it’s just too easy, but I think it’s a good quality,honestly (you know..moderation) mostly because it balances my haphazard craziness.

        I lose things, he finds them. I break things, he fixes them, I use things, he saves them. But I’ll save a buck and he’ll spend it. Strange are the habits we pick up from our parents and elders.

        • Some of my very favorite things are from garage sales, I hope you try it. Its such fun to come home with that awesome kitchen goodie. Last week I got a set of 5 pier one nesting white porcelain bowls for $4.00!!!

  3. Liz says
    I’ve been trying to do this, too! Such a wonderful message…and I will try to follow your example more often 🙂

  4. Thank You So Much For The Kind Comments!

  5. Having been in your home I have enjoyed this many times as well as the meals you have cooked for us!

  6. foodie30 says
    Have been to your home and remember this hanging there, and is very touching. keep the recipes coming!

  7. foodie30 says
    Have been to your home and remember this hanging there, and is very touching. keep the recipes coming!

  8. Love the article, it’s been on the fridge for years and she follows it to “T” and uses that Philosophy all the time in the kitchen, now if she would just be that way with clothes, shoes, and purses we would be in great shape!

  9. I absolutely love this. I just pulled out my mom & grandma’s china the other day. I’m going to have a lovely dinner using it! There’s no reason to wait!

    • Erin, I am so glad you helped me get this on my blog. By reading yours I find that you have those sentiment thoughts like I do and thought of you when I read Greener Grass. Looking forward to many more great articles on your site!

  10. I’ve also read this piece and it does make you realize that saving something for later isn’t the best. Use it now, wear it now, do it now!

    • I think we would be better if we would enjoy life more if we realized that there is always a possiblity that later may never come. Thanks for reading this and all the help you have been to me this week!

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