How many of us know someone who saves the “good stuff” for later? They won’t use it now because it needs to be kept in good shape for some special time that hasn’t arrived yet. Perhaps you’ve done this yourself. Have you deprived yourself of enjoying the moment because you felt that “now” wasn’t special enough?
I’ve seen people who won’t use the good dishes unless it’s a special occasion. You’ve probably known friends who don’t want to “wear out” their favorite item of clothing so they let it stay in their closet. People are often trained to hold back the best things in life so that they can be enjoyed and treasured “later”.
But here’s the problem with that type of thinking: Later is often too late.
Use the good stuff now
Right after I graduated from college, my mother and I went to Europe. While we were in Paris, Mom bought several expensive bottles of perfume. These perfumes were not available in the United States (or if they were, they weren’t available in our neck of the woods). She wore the different perfumes at times, but I remember her talking about not wanting to use them up. After all, since she’d bought them in Europe, they were special and she might not ever be able to find them again. Therefore, she kept them back for special occasions.
Now there is nothing wrong with having things that you save for special occasions. But let me continue with the perfume tale.
After my mother died, I was charged with taking care of most of her personal belongings. I remember opening up the drawer in her bathroom where she kept her perfumes and bath accessories. There I found the bottles of perfume she’d bought in Europe that she was so proud of.
What was so sad about it was that most of the bottles were still at least half full.
You won’t be here forever
She’d had these perfumes for years. But there was still so much left that she hadn’t enjoyed because she’d been saving them for a “special” time. Only now she was gone and her perfume was left. It didn’t seem right. She’d spent so much time saving those perfumes, that she didn’t get to fully enjoy them.
You can’t imagine the guilt I felt disposing of the perfumes. But they had gotten old enough that the scent had changed and they weren’t scents that anyone in the family wanted. So I donated the ones that were still good and kept a couple of vials of the scents I remember her wearing when I was a kid.
My thought throughout the entire process was, “How sad – the perfumes she loved so much outlasted her.” And I wished that she’d spent more time wearing and enjoying them, and less time worrying about needing to save them for some special time. How much more pleasure and joy would she have experienced if she’d splashed on that lovely fragrance every day?
But I guess my mother came by this trait naturally – she learned it from her own mother.
What do white couches and perfume have in common?
My grandmother was a young woman during the Great Depression. Like most folks her age, this time period influenced her thinking and behavior in many ways.
The thing that comes most to mind, though, is her living room couch. You see, my grandmother bought an expensive couch for her living room back before I was born. Have I mentioned that the couch was white?
Yes, you read this right. The couch was white… as snow.
Now if my grandmother hadn’t had two kids in her home along with the white couch, that might have been the end of this story. But she did have children – and a white couch. I keep repeating that because it still blows my mind that any mother would bring a white couch into a house with children (this was before slip covers and Scotch Guard). And years later, she had two grandchildren. But what is even more mind-blowing is that the couch STAYED white.
You see, she was very particular about her white couch. Oh, you could sit on it, but there were rules. You couldn’t put your feet on it. You couldn’t sit on it if you had food or drink in your hands. You couldn’t sit on it if your clothes were dirty. You get the idea.
And as you can imagine, kids hated that couch. My grandmother was a very loving woman. I adored her and she adored her grandchildren. There were plenty of cuddles and wonderful times – just not on the white couch.
Now I’m not advocating that you mistreat things or let them get torn up. I believe that it’s important to take care of our belongings and to teach children to do the same. There’s no reason to raise children to feel that the world, and everything in it, is there for them to destroy. But I do think there is a happy medium. You can go too far in either direction when it comes to stuff.
Things don’t last forever
Years after my grandmother had died and I was moving back to my hometown, it came time to get rid of the couch. And guess what?
It was still white.
And I had that same old sad feeling. Instead of having fond memories of cuddling with my grandmother on that couch, all it meant to me was a reminder that it was “special” and we had to treat it as such.
So as I watch Grandma’s couch being hauled off, that was my feeling. The couch that had once been so special was now outdated. The foam in the cushions was so old that it made a crunchy sound when you sat down on it. But by golly, the covering was still white. Grandma would have been proud.
I , however, could have cried.
The moral of this story is this: things are just things. It’s the people, experiences, and memories that make life special.
So wear the good perfume every day if it makes you happy. Put on the expensive jewelry. Wear your favorite piece of fancy clothing even if you’re not going anyplace special. Eat hamburgers off the good china. Pull out the crystal goblets when you share a bottle of wine with friends. Sit and cuddle on the good furniture. Enjoy the nice things in your life and quit saving them for some ambiguous time in the future that will be “special”.
Because whether we choose to think about it or not, today is the most special day you may ever have.
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Do you have things you’re saving for some time in the future?
Before you go, be sure to check out the following posts. Say NO to Things That Steal Your Joy talks about how easy it is to let minor things take over our lives. Do You Need a Jolt of Joy in Your Life will remind you how important the little things are. And Get Intentional About Bringing Joy Into Your Life may be just the kick in the pants you need to create your own list of “joy jolts.”