Since I live abroad, I'm constantly taking stock of how much stuff we own. And occasionally I glance around our home and take a mental inventory of everything that we'll need to sell or give away when we inevitably move on from our current home.
Recently, I was talking with a friend about "stuff," the actual stuff we surround ourselves with in our physical environments. Konmari-style tidying is all the rage and we were reflecting on the news item about the uptick in donations to charitable organizations with all the Marie Kondo fans emptying their closets. Neither of us are minimalists and we joked that we're the ones waiting for the drop-offs when the newly converted donate Grandma's unused china to the Salvation Army.
I recall my Grannie's collection of serving pieces, formal china (I think she had two sets), everyday plate ware, glasses, crystal, silver, and everyday flatware. She had it all, but the thing is I don't remember ever eating off the formal china. And, ironically, neither of my grandparents drank alcohol so the wine glasses and now-retro champagne coupes collected dust in a corner cabinet.
With my Grannie now in assisted living for memory care, and with April 23rd being the one year anniversary of a dear friend's death from metastatic breast cancer, I have taken quite a lot of time to reflect on the impermanence of life.
Like me, both Grannie and the friend, Eli, were collectors of beautiful things. We all enjoy(ed) vibrant colors, lush textiles, souvenirs of global travels, beautiful flowers, and, most of all, setting an inviting table for dinner with family and friends.
Yet, one thing that separated Eli from most is that she would always use the "good china." Her table was variously set with linens from her travels in Peru or South Africa and she always presented meals on the bone china. Wine was lovingly poured into her crystal glasses. "Cheers" had that iconic ring from crystal that so differs from glass.
I'm not saying that a sandwich at the park or a pizza eaten straight out of the box isn't good. They are! And shared with friends, are even better.
However, if you have favorite things that are too precious to use, just collecting dust out of reach on a top shelf, pull them down for an average Thursday night dinner. Take a moment to eat lunch from a hand painted bowl. Buy yourself flowers for no reason except that they make your office brighter. Wear that vintage sweater you remember your Mother wearing in the 80s (or Grannie's kelly green cardigan from 1965, in my case). Whatever it is that you've been holding dear in a closed box, bring it out and let it sing.
Life is too short not to use the good china.