We all have had those things that we’ve gotten and never used because we were keeping them for special days. They are beautiful, too beautiful to use all the time, we think, possibly because they were expensive or given to us by a loved one, and we don’t want to damage them. So, we tuck them away in a closet or a trunk, and think about that special time we will use them.
But do we ever use them or enjoy them?
Maybe, if we have the space to host a big dinner party so we can set out that 12 piece china and crystal service.
Maybe, we will wear that dress from 20 years ago, if we drop those 20 pound and tighten up our middle. That’s of course, if the dress is still in fashion.
Maybe, we’ll drive the vintage car again, once we get the money to fix it up properly and have the time to do the hand rubbed wax shine, it so deserves.
Maybe, we’ll finish that collection of mint condition comics we have tucked away. We just need three more, and then we will build a special display case, so we can admire them, but never read them.
How sad. Sad for us and sad for whatever it is that we hide away in a box in the closet.
In inevitably, though what really happens is this:
- Clothing goes out of style, our bodies change,
- Things that are folded develop fade spots where the fabric is creased.
- Adornments such as feathers attached to hats, slowly disintegrate and shed all over everything else.
- Photos that are stored get damp, moldy or just stick together from temperature changes.
- Dishes that are stored get bumped or dropped, and are unusable before you ever have that chance to enjoy them.
Well, you get the idea.
I don’t want to be a doomsayer. This doesn’t happen with everything, but when something is out of sight and out of mind, it doesn’t get the regular care it needs. In the end, the items suffer for it. It’s human nature to a bit hard on our stuff and normal to let our belongings get dusty, or buried under other things. We have busy lives, and we don’t put as high a priority on our stuff as we do our loved ones.
It’s kind of a paradox.
I’ve lost track of how many people I helped to sort through their “treasures and keepsakes,” only to find out when we locate them that they are damaged beyond repair. They are even more heartbroken at the thought of the lost dream of reliving the past through that item.
My usual advice to clients and family has been this: Give yourself permission to use all of your belongings.
If you struggle with that thought, then maybe ask yourself these following questions.
What do we really mean by “saving something for good?”
If we are paying to store these things, how do we feel about the use of money?
Do we really love these items as much as we think we do, or do we keep them because they were once important to someone else?
Do we maybe, secretly resent or feel guilty about holding on to these “treasures?”
Aren’t we good enough now to have and use belongings that we love?
Why do we need to wait for someone more special to come for a visit us before we use our “good” things?
When we do use these things, are we stressed and worried they will get damaged.
Why are we telling ourselves that we are not good enough for our own things?
Lastly, what did you discover about yourself and your answers to these questions?
For years I was no different. I had special things I would save, like the family wedding china. It was beautiful, delicate, a full 12 piece setting with assorted serving pieces. I had big plans to use them at holidays and birthdays, surrounded by my family. It was a nice dream, but not really practical, for several reasons. I’m an introvert. I have a few select friends (none of whom do “fancy”), very little family, and the thought of throwing a more formal party that would support the expensiveness of these dishes makes me cringe. My hubby and I are very relaxed people. So this dream that I carried around for years, saving these dishes for good, was never, ever going to happen. I found them a loving home, and I’m happy they are being used. In fact, I’ve discovered that I prefer the uniqueness of different, single dishes at my table. I like being able to look at the beauty of a plate by it’s self. I love having a unified color for a place setting, but then seeing that each place is different. It’s like making a new discovery in a treasure hunt.
The other thing to remember is that all material items will eventually be broken or stop functioning. For years, I had waited for this favorite game table that my family used when I was little. It was a very cool table. You can see it in the picture above. It’s behind my sister in the pretty Easter dress. You can even see the shine in this old photograph. It is made out of mahogany, has a beautiful curved base. The top unfolds and spins to create a card table sized surface for games. Underneath the table top, there is a compartment to store games, cards, or puzzles. When not in use, it’s a display table, and part of the table top unfolds upward toward the wall behind it and provides a background for a vase of flowers or other items. I have always loved this table. I have had it 12 years, now, and I have yet to use it. Not because I don’t want to, but because when I received it, it had been stored. It broke my heart when I saw it. It was water damaged, both hinges were broken off and the wood splintered. The top is also warped. It was not like this when I first asked for it. It had been lovingly polished and cared for. I was even willing to buy it from my Mom at the time. But Mom felt that she would one day use it again, and instead, decided to stick it in a storage unit, with a bunch of other things piled on top of it. In a way, she held it hostage.
Every time I asked about the table, she would say, “You can have it when I pull it out of storage, oh, and take these things with you, as well.”
The end result was me carting home a bunch of things I didn’t want, along with getting a badly damaged table, eventually.
I still have the table. I have researched how to fix it. It would require major restoration, and it’s use and value is severely diminished.
I guess this is why I feel so strongly about using all of your belongings. Like anything, the table would have eventually worn out. I would have preferred having played games on it with our friends, and looking at a nick or a scuff and thinking, “We had so much fun playing dice games on this table.” I want the bangs and chips on things to hold good, fond memories, not thoughts about the sadness of neglect.
At this point I am trying to decide what my next step is with the game table. Maybe I can repair it, I’m not really sure.
But I definitely can’t “use it for good.”