Remember back in the early email days when people would forward articles and jokes right to your inbox because there was no social media to share it on? In the late nineties, someone (pretty sure it was my grandma from her AOL account) forwarded an email to me with a powerful story that has stuck with me ever since.
The story was by Ann Wells, whose essay published in The Los Angeles Times in April 1985 that subsequently “went viral” around 1998. It was titled “What Special Someday Are We Saving For?”
The article begins like this:
‘My brother-in-law opened the bottom drawer of my sister’s bureau and lifted out a tissue-wrapped package.
“This,” he said, “is not a slip. This is lingerie.”
He discarded the tissue and handed me the slip. It was exquisite: silk, handmade and trimmed with a cobweb of lace. The price tag with an astronomical figure on it was still attached.
“Jan bought this the first time we went to New York, at least eight or nine years ago. She never wore it. She was saving it for a special occasion. Well, I guess this is the occasion.”
He took the slip from me and put it on the bed with the other clothes we were taking to the mortician. His hands lingered on the soft material for a moment. Then he slammed the drawer shut and turned to me.
“Don’t ever save anything for a special occasion. Every day you’re alive is a special occasion.”’
I was young and single and working in a cubicle at the time (I loved my job, though). Even though I read that over 20 years ago, I still find myself thinking about that story. It’s had an impact on how I live my life.
I don’t want to be the person whose kids are going through my drawers and cupboards when I’m gone and wondering why Mom never used her pretty things.
I’m currently sitting at my kitchen table. It’s in the “breakfast nook” that was added when our house had a second story stuck on top and the entire house was remodeled back in the 1920s.
On the table is a vintage linen tablecloth in robin’s egg blue from my sister, Abbi’s, shop. You know what happened last night? I knocked a cup of tea over on it.
Yep. It was a big mug, completely full and scalding hot, and it went all over my tablecloth, placemat, laptop keyboard, journal pages, notebook, jeans, Kindle, and lots of other things (I am super talented that way).
So now that pretty vintage tablecloth might be stained. But it’s being used and enjoyed. I will wash it and maybe the stain will come out and maybe it won’t. But I will use it on the table again and enjoy the color and the way that it covers the terrible finish on the table that I painstakingly painted and then sealed with a product that apparently gets sticky when it comes in contact with skin.
Find your pretty things. What might these be? What are you saving? What is “too good” to use? What gifts have you felt obligated to keep but have never used? What seems too fancy for everyday? Are you saving it or have you just not gotten around to using it? Put a date on your calendar for shopping or make that manicure or massage appointment. Set aside time for a spa day.
Don’t hold back, don’t shrink, don’t “save” your stuff.