This post was first published on June 19, 2009. I thought it apropos after this past month’s emphasis on decluttering and spring cleaning. Basically, if you’re going to keep it — use it.
A few years ago, I read this excerpt from one of Erma Bombeck’s columns, when she discovered she was dying from cancer — it was titled “If I Had to Live My Life Over”:
“… I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage. I would have talked less and listened more. I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded. I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace. … I would have sat on the lawn with my kids, even if it meant grass stains.”
It hit home. As I write this, I’m looking at a bottle of perfume — one that I love — that was a Mother’s Day gift in 2005. I’ve used about a quarter of it. I’m not sure if I’m waiting for the queen to visit, an invitation to the presidential inauguration ball, or just some amazingly romantic date with my husband. But for some reason, I hesitate to use it, as though it’s a precious commodity; that once it’s gone, it’s gone.
That’s true, to some degree. But I can just get more perfume, probably as another Mother’s Day gift. If I love it so much, why don’t I just use it?
Do you have something in your life akin to this? For your wedding, did you register for special china in addition to your everyday dishes? How about certain lotions, or soaps, or articles of clothing? Do you have eleven categories of towel types, like Monica does in Friends?
Maybe you’re in the depths of early childhood rearing, like me. You’re up to your elbows in poop and snot, and you lost count the amount of times you’ve picked up the same blocks off the same carpet. Your day is peppered with breakfast, lunch, dinner, nap times, quiet times, time outs, and story time. If you hear Dora’s map yell “I’m the map!” one more time, you might scream.
The liturgy of our day’s everydayness can be numbing. It’s easy to forget about that good perfume, the bone china, the silk skirt. There’s spit-up to contend with.
Make this season of your life — whatever it is — more special with those special things you’re saving. Break out the good china for tonight’s homemade pizza. Let your kids know they’re special with those special little things, and don’t worry so much about the messes they’ll make. Bring out the “fancy guest” towels for your family. You’ll blink, and this season will be gone. That pudgy hand covered in dirt will soon be holding hands in a waltz with her groom.
Enjoy the little things in life. And make them more special by using the good stuff. Don’t wait for that perfect moment — it’s right here.
What “thing” are you saving for something special?