Sunday, August 02, 2015

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Let's Use the Good Stuff

Christmas Eve dinner 2014

My husband and I were recently reminiscing about Mamaw... my mother.  We were talking about her much beloved and ratty nightgown, which was held together with safety pins.  What was amusing was the fact that Mom had a couple pretty nightgowns in a dresser drawer of her bedroom.  Given to her as gifts from her children to wear instead of the ratty red nightie.

However, she was saving them in case "she had to go to the hospital".  Which is even more amusing because as we know, one wears a hospital gown when actually in the hospital.  But Mom was part of that generation that lived through two world wars and a Great Depression.  Like so many her age, she saved the Good Stuff for someday.

I mean, really... for what are people saving saving their best?  That Perfect Day when the sun is shining and the birds are singing and it is 70 degrees and everyone we know has been in a good mood and we feel wonderful and the bills are all paid and the pantry stocked and the children are all obedient and Heaven has come to Earth?

There is a gift that comes with illness, whether a chronic illness like my own or a life threatening illness.  One either grows tired and bitter or one learns to embrace Life as it arrives each day.  His mercies are, after all... new every morning.  When one has not been guaranteed a next year or even a next day... and if you think of it none of us are... we learn to use the Good Stuff.  Today.

When pondering this Sunday Afternoon Tea post, I thought about my collection of brown transferware.  It began with a plate purchased here and there at thrift stores.  Through the years more pieces were added when found at low prices at the antique mall.  Amazon credit was used for the teapot one year.

Friends gave me pieces as they came across them.  Kristi sent me her set of brown Old British Castles dishes (lovely).  My daughter gifted with a platter on our visit to Brimfield (which was a Perfect Day).  As any collector knows, the memories of the hunt or the one who gave a gift is as endearing as the object itself.

And I admit I have other sets of dishes which... except for my wedding china... were inherited or purchased at thrift stores.  But it is my brown transferware that causes my heart to go pitty pat and brings a smile to my face.  Which is why it is displayed in the china cabinet and on the hutch.

But you know what?  I also use it!  I created a tradition of using it for sit down dinners during the Autumn season.  When the first pumpkin spice latte is available at Starbuck's (usually September 1st) is my official first day of Autumn.  No matter how hot it is outside.

It is the china I use for Thanksgiving Dinner and sometimes for Christmas Eve.  But I also use it for grilled burgers and crustless quiche and for individual Tea Times in Autumn.  I know many people who use it throughout the year.  But I do have to give equal time to other dishes.  ;)

Why do we not use the good perfume or actually light the lovely scented candles?  Why are there gorgeous journals on our shelves... with not one word written in them?  Are we waiting to write the Great American Novel in them instead of the most precious story... the very days of our lives?

We need to use the Living Room and the formal Dining Room and that pretty table on the deck.  We need to wear the lovely sweater that needs dry cleaned and the dress we were saving for a special occasion which may never arrive.

When I let my daughter-in-law choose from my teacup collection (offering everything except those which were gifts or had other sentimental value), I told her not to worry about breaking them.  But to use them and have lots of tea parties.

We need to dare to break things or to stain things or to have the baby spit up on the pretty blouse.  We need to use the pretty pens and the beautiful washi tape and the cards with the lovely artwork.  We need to wear the jewelry.  We need to be using the pretty tea towels and beautiful linens.

We need to set the table with the vintage lace and use grandmother's inherited china and the fragile crystal stemware and use the pretty teapot and the silver... whether inherited or purchased at a thrift store.  We need to brew the expensive tea that was gifted to us and perhaps even share it with a friend.

Why do we save the Good Stuff?  Are we going to take it with us?  I have a feeling that everything in Heaven is infinitely better than the Good Stuff we have here.  After all, the streets are paved with gold.  Yes... what man values most is the stuff they make pavement from there.

So use the Good Stuff now.  Today.  Don't wait.  Let Carpe Diem be our motto... while we look to That Day when all will be made Perfect.


Melissa said...

Oh yes, I agree heartily and I do use them! Many years now our VBS week falls in the same week as our wedding until we get that free night to go out and celebrate I'll serve the hotdogs (or whatever is easiest) on our wedding china. Yes, I do put it in the dishwasher for convenience sometimes, even though you're not supposed too; the etching may come off. I value it, yes, but I also use it and enjoy doing so.
The funny thing also is, if I don't use "the good stuff" when celebrating something special, my husband will casually mention it (he says he doesn't care!) but I think deep down they all care about us making a special deal when using the nice things for them. They are family and they should feel loved!

Anonymous said...

I so love this pondering. It speaks to me. I have been sort of "hit and miss" working on this--using things I had put back to save for whatever occasion. Still have lots of kitchen dish towels, pretty ones, that I just haven't been able to bring myself to use yet. Maybe I'll pull some of them out now and use them. So good that you use your pretty dishes and things to set a beautiful table and make your guests feel special.
When we go to a friend's home each Thanksgiving, she always sets such a beautiful table and I qppreciate that she made that effort to have things special. I hope to do the same for my guests. Thanks for this thought-provoking post. Blessings, Sharon D.

Anonymous said...

I love this and wholeheartedly agree. With your way with words, you said it perfectly. My friend was telling me her grandma was a millionaire but used the old short ratty towels for everyday. She died and left all the good stuff for others. I personally knew another gal who pinched every penny to the degree that she wouldn't even buy herself a meal in her old age. She went without. She was very wealthy too. She's gone now and those who inherited have had no problem buying new cars and taking nice vacations. If God has blessed one with good stuff, every good and perfect gift is from Him, then show your appreciation to Him and use that good stuff! Pam (SD)

rebecca said...

Carpe Diem indeed!

Mary M said...

I needed to hear this Brenda! I have my wedding china that comes out at Easter, Christmas and Thanksgiving, but you're right. What am I waiting for? And I am the world's worst for putting things off until I retire. None of us know when we will be called Home. This was the kick in the pants I needed. :-)

Sandi said...

You've inspired me. Gonna break out the good china!

tealady said...

I could not agree with you more. I actually own 3 sets of dish's my everyday, my Wedgewood collection which like you I picked up here and there. I did manage to collect a service for 8. I have Christmas dish's which I only used for Christmas we now use them the whole month of December.

My biggest and most loved are my tea cups and saucers and yet I and my guests use them often, including my grandchildren. Non have gotten broke except by me.


Deanna Rabe said...

This has been my Motto for years! Why not use the good stuff for the most important people in our lives - our families! Yes things may get broken but not if they are taught to be careful from childhood. So they may enjoy the good stuff and learn to share the good stuff with those most important to them....

Love this. I was able to buy some new Friendly Village plates last year very, very inexpensively. I used them all through the fall and winter, and will again be getting them out in about a month!

Thank you for this encouragement!


Front Porch Grace said...