Sunday, January 26, 2020

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Celebrating by using the good stuff

This week I have been pondering the need to take our pretty stuff, our fragile things, our fine china, the pretty stationary, the lovely scented bath soap, our delicate tea towels we received as a gift, etc. and actually using them.  We need to celebrate that which is beautiful on a daily basis.

I've mentioned before about learning a lesson when going through the boxes my husband brought home after his mom was killed in a car accident at age eighty-five.  I picked up the beautiful vintage linens she had kept in a box and they literally fell apart in my hands.  I decided right then that I didn't want anyone opening a box after I am gone and finding unused beauty.

I bought my first piece (actually pieces) of silver for a dollar at a garage sale when I was quite young.  The elderly woman selling the Paul Revere silver candle sticks said she was tired of polishing them.  I think of her when I am polishing the many silver pieces I have purchased at Goodwill and thrift stores since then, all of them displayed somewhere in the house.  Well, except for a few serving trays carefully wrapped and in the sideboard.

Granted, modern silver polish makes keeping them easier than the stuff we used when we had to wear gloves.  It is worth the small amount of work to be able to view a beautiful silver teapot or display stand or candelabra as the light flickers in the shine of silver.  I usually polish most of my silver pieces before the Holidays but this year I was out of polish and by the time I purchased it, January was here.  That's okay... it was still polished.

I didn't inherit any fine china or silver but that didn't stop my desire to have them in my home.  It doesn't bother me that my pretty china and tea things don't get used every day or that the silver pieces are mainly for display.  They sometimes get used but they are appreciated as the beautiful pieces of art they are.

I keep the silver vase above on my desk, sometimes with a silk flower in it and at other times a favorite real flower.  I had seen a similar vase in a photo and when I saw one just like it at Goodwill, it immediately went into my cart.  No second thoughts there.  I think it was $1.99... or maybe just 99 cents.

Recently on Instagram, I shared a photo of my latest cranberry glass purchase from Goodwill.  The candy dish with a lid adds such beauty to the table where it is sitting for a cost of a couple dollars.  I have a small collection of other cranberry glass including two goblets (which I have had for a long time), a small bowl,  and a cake stand.  All of them purchased for just two or three dollars.  Each one provides a particular beauty to where it is displayed.

Lest this become all about my thrift store purchases, what I have been thinking about was our odd reasoning for not using the good stuff.  I suppose we think we may break something or get a stain on a lovely linen.  I used to think that way and I have had things break.  But I have learned I would rather take that risk than to live with all the pretty stuff safely put away where it is behind doors.

When we use our good stuff, we are celebrating the fact that we are God's creation.  Not perfect but much beloved.  God made everything good but in the Fall, silver turned to tarnish, wood rotted from too much rain, flowers faded, and chocolate made people gain weight while kale did not.  Life was no longer... fair.

However, when we use those items we own that make our heart sing, it is reminding us that God really did call everything good.  He created... Beauty.  That is why we must have it in our lives or we wither and die.  Perhaps not on the outside but inside we do.

I once wrote a blog post about decorating as a form of spiritual warfare.  It is true, when I am very down and discouraged, I look around and see what I can do to make my home look pretty.  Sometimes it is simply washing the load of dishes stacking up in the sink while I may dust the display of Friendly Village items on the hutch.

At such times, I love to take a teapot off the shelf and brew a pot of favorite tea.  It is served in one of my prettiest teacups and often with cinnamon toast and cheese.  Nothing elaborate but it never fails to perk me up.  All it takes is a little time and effort to bring out the good stuff.

These days I dry dishes with tea towels that are beautiful, given to me by my daughter or daughter-in-law.  They get used every day.  They may get old and stained but they will not fall apart from not being used and enjoyed someday.

I have talked to my kids and I know what items they want me to keep and who may want them.  I know what I can safely send to Goodwill.  For I have been getting rid of things I have held on to for "someday" but never used.  At least not for a long time. Except for a few items, if it is not used or appreciated or loved... it goes to charity.

When I am no longer enjoying my tea pots, tea cups, silver pieces, china, etc., I'd like to think someone is enjoying them.  Whether it be a member of my family or a stranger who is thrilled to find something so lovely at a thrift store.  Really cheap.  That is fine with me.

What I don't want to leave behind is a reputation for never using the pretty stuff, the fragile things, the delicate linens, those items that had to be hand washed. I'd rather my grandchildren think (perhaps rightly so) that Grammie may have been slightly obsessed with books and teacups and brown transferware china.  But at least she enjoyed them!

8 comments: said...

Thank you for sharing with us! Such timely words for me!

Vee said...

It is painful to see lovely things destroyed by not being used or by being stored improperly. I don’t have room to use everything, though I rotate through the lovely things. I saved out my twinkle lights from Christmas to enjoy well into winter. As I changed the batteries again today, I decided that this is the last time until next November. A gal could go broke! Six items requiring batteries is too much. I am still trying to figure out what to do with the things I do not love, but that have a strong emotional connection. Maybe, I could take a picture and let them go to someone who would enjoy them. What is your solution for books? It seems I cannot get ahead of that task and I am not enjoying them all.

Thickethouse.wordpress said...

Yes, celebrate by using the lovely things. And being grateful for them and feeling the joy of them and by sharing them as one is able. You are so wise, Brenda....My grandmother, whom I loved very much, had drawers of lovely gifts that she was saving. When she died at the age of 91 she was still saving them. I know it is difficult for people who lived through the depression, but you have the right ideas!

Debbie Nolan said...

So glad to read your post. I too think one should enjoy beauty every day. Always love a fresh picked bouquet of flowers for the table. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Deanna Rabe said...

I really love this idea and think it’s so important! When I started to do tea parties with real teacups and tea pots, I found women felt uncomfortable because they had never treated themselves to the use of nice things.

I love using pretty things to help make our home feel welcoming and warm! said...

Yes, "use the good stuff"! I have my parents first set of their good china. The interesting thing is the dinner plate is ONLY 9 inches, instead of our typical 12 inch size that is common now! We have to have seconds and even thirds at Thanksgiving time to "fill" up our plates with all of the delicious food! Also, there are no matching cups for this set of china. But I did see an interesting photo of someone who uses colored mugs to fill in that gap of no china cups. It was a coordinating color that looked great with the china. Also, because it's so old it's not "dishwasher" safe, I still put it in the dishwasher. It's only once or twice a year, and I enjoy being able to use them anyway.

Anonymous said...

Nicely written which silver polish do you use.?.

Brenda Leyland @ Its A Beautiful Life said...

Really like the photo of your silver vase and the rose and berry branch. What a lovely vase.

I totally get not saving things for a hazy 'someday'. My grandma had nighties in her dresser drawer that had never been used. I say use those kinds of things. Use the nice perfume and the pretty soaps and china cups. And the pretty nighties. Use them often. But I admit there's a part of me that loves to keep some things for special and saving them them except for occasional special occasions. I experience a certain delight in bringing them out during those rarer times.

Perhaps there's a balance to find, where we find what works for us -- just doing what gives joy and adds grace moments to our lives.

Thanks for another thoughtful and lovely post, Brenda.
Brenda L.