Why I’m Done Deferring Joy

Recently, I’ve decided that I’m done “saving it for good.” Nothing’s too good to use. Nothing’s too good to wear. 

Mimmie's lemonade set

Mimmie’s lemonade set

When Mimmie (my father’s mother) died, I received her handpainted Nipon lemonade set. She’d promised it to me because I’d admired it for years. I also received Grandma’s (my mother’s mother) crystal goblets after Grandma died. I am pleased to own both sets—they are part of my heritage and they remind me of women I love. For 30 years, I’ve “saved them for good,” dusting them but rarely using them.

I also have dresses, blouses, and a suit I’ve saved for good, which means I rarely wear them. Too often, the clothes are too small or out of style before I need them again. I wind up giving them away—which is OK, maybe someone else can use them—but why didn’t I use them?

I don’t know whether or not “saving it for good” is a generational phenomenon. As a Baby Boomer whose parents experienced the Great Depression, I was taught that it was important to hang on to and care for the things you had, because somebody worked hard to get them, and you might not to be able to replace them if they got ruined. But somewhere along the line that practical impulse got subverted.

My special things began to assume too much importance—they had to be protected in glass breakfronts, handwashed and dried, and only admired occasionally. That’s the impulse I’m rejecting. My sons never knew my grandmothers, so the meaning and memories go when I go. If the lemonade cups get chipped, so be it. They are meant to be used and enjoyed, not wind up in an estate sale. I will think of Mimmie and Grandma more often if I use their things regularly than if the items stay in my cupboard.

Grandma's goblets

Grandma’s goblets

I’m also rejecting the idea of deferring joy—that there’s some bigger better moment in the future—some truly important occasion when I should dress up or use crystal. That’s akin to waiting until retirement to travel and then having a heart attack or some other debilitating illness and not being able to go.

Instead, I’m choosing to live in the moment more—I’m not saving for a rainy day or waiting for the right time. Well, OK, I’m still saving money because, if heredity is any guide, I’m going to live a long time. But I’m spending more joy right now.

So I’ll use Mimmie’s cups to drink iced tea and sip cabernet from Grandma’s goblets. And when I show up at work in a dress or suit, my coworkers can wonder if I have a job interview, but you’ll know the real story!

Do you save anything for good? How do you seize the day and spend more joy right now?

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6 thoughts on “Why I’m Done Deferring Joy

  1. Great advice. And, hopefully, by us using these treasures, our children will be more interested in using them someday…WAAAY in the future…when we are gone.

  2. I couldn’t agree more! We have gobs and gobs of china sitting prettily in cabinets, never getting used. I pull them out for special occasions, about once or twice a year.

    When we are old and ready to hand off things to our children, do you think they will want the china that sat in the corner cabinets, untouched? No, they will want the chipped, cracked daily dishes that we used when they were growing up, because that’s what will remind them of home. In the same way, my sister’s most prized possession is the plateware she got from my grandma because it was her self-described “cheap” set that she used at the cabin where we vacationed every summer. Grandma never understood why Kristi asked for that set and not the china which had been handed down from her own mother but which we had never used. We hold on to things not because they are things but because they invoke memories.

    A good read. Thank you.

  3. Love, love, love the lemonade set. Yes, use it everyday even if you only drink water out of a cup in the morning. You are so right when you say you will think of these special women more often if you are using these pieces. I totally get the Depression Era mentality. I’m still fighting it too.

    This week we unexpectedly lost a very good friend who had just turned 70 and even though he had money, he was concerned about not spending too much because his parents lived to a ripe old age. We assumed he would too. So shocking. So living in the moment and appreciating life and lemonade cups are of the utmost importance.

    Thanks for the joy of a good read.

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