Use the good china

Wear your Sunday best on Mondays
Doubt when the weather report says "Save it for a rainy day"

We could see each other Saturday or get together next week, but why wait?

Use the good china.

- "Use the Good China" by Freya

What do you have that you're saving for for later, for the perfect occasion? And why are you postponing joy?

I have a bottle of perfume, La Reine Margot (a Maitre Gantier et Parfumeur fragrance) tucked into
my bottom drawer. I've been waiting till I've used several nearly-finished bottles of other scents. But why?

Last week I met with my friend Catherine to catch up– we had not seen each other for nearly two years. I learned that she had endured both a debilitating car accident and the gutting of her investments, not a Madoff-melt, but serious enough. And thanks to the economy, her income had dropped by 50%. A woman of immense spirit and talents, she related these events with rue but also humour and grace.

Catherine then pulled out a folder of paint samples, and said th
at she was choosing colours for her living room. She had postponed decorating, but now was ready to surround herself with beauty. She'd set out to buy a new sofa in a practical neutral, and was captivated by a colourful print– so that's the one she bought.

Now she's choosing luscious colours from a designer paint line. She's using the good china.

Listening to her resolution to live exuberantly and wholly despite these blows reminded me that life on hold is life diminished. Time does not suspend, stowed along with the silk nightgown or fancy soaps tucked away for 'someday'.

I'm having this talk with myself: Open the perfume, take those shoes out of the shoebox, call a friend to meet for lunch somewhere with a bit of charm, and remember what Dad used to say, "Enjoy your ice cream while it's on your plate."


Zénaide said…
Hear, hear and amen to that.
Lynda said…
Love this in the moment is so important. What am I saving the good stuff for. I had a friend dying of cancer, one day we packed up all the good china and crystal and had lunch on the beach.....but that's the way she lived her life. Thanks for this reminder.
Enjoy your posts so much.
Your hair on the side photo is lovely.
NancyDaQ said…
Very true! I hope your friend enjoys her new room.

I'll add a related thought: move those fancy items on to someone else if you're not going to use them.

For example, I'm using the silver flatware for everyday, which is good. I'm also seriously considering donating the "good" china since it doesn't fit our lifestyle. Perhaps someone else would enjoy it more.
Mary said…
Duchesse, thank you for a lovely post and a timely reminder to live and enjoy right now,in the present. I've learned that for me, stashing way the "good stuff" for "some day" is a form of hoarding and comes from a place of scarcity. Your words are a timely reminder for me.
elke said…
In thrift stores, I've seen many such 'saved' objects, the most recent a box of handkerchiefs, never used or washed, still pinned to the paper. On the back of the box was written, 'with love, Violet Dec /40'. Violet (an adult, by her writing) bought these for less that $1, I'm sure, and gave them to someone who stowed them in the back of her sock drawer for 69 years.

I'm trying not to be like that, but there are hoarders in the family tree.
Frugal Scholar said…
Thanks for the reminder. I come from a line of women afflicted by this. Luckily, my daughter has not inherited the tendency.
mette said…
Thank you so much of reminding us about this. I have had a really tough time trying to `let me out´. My mother had her small diamond ring in the bank deposit and never got to wear it. This is how I was brought up. I now actually use my best china ( table wear) all the time. I had small doubts with a very expensive YSL crocodile bag; should I, could I? Then one day I started to carry it on daily basis. The darker crocodile one I wear during winter months. I know I should wear more often my pearl necklace, but I´m a little afraid that some knot would brake. Ok, I´ll have it checked and start using it. Indeed, life is meant to be lived, not saved in a bank deposit.
Susan B said…
Amen to that!

On my blog sidebar is a quote from my grandmother that I try to live by, "There's no point in having nice things if you don't use them."

I think a corollary to this is women who wait to do _____ until they lose weight. One can waste a lot of years that way.
Duchesse said…
Lynda: She left you such a gift, did she not?

Nancy: Excellent corollary! Sell or give away and choose something that's you.

Mary: I've posted on hoarding; it could be either a hoarding or a kind of self-abnegation ("I don't deserve this.")

elke: How true! Sometimes I visit auction houses and see things that are old but obviously never used, and I think how sad- the things survived but were never enjoyed.

Frugal: I can get hoardy but am no longer patting myself on the back for it.

metscan: Oh yes- for me, the more precious rare the item, the more likely I am to 'save it', and an excellent antidote is to use it as an everyday object. My godmother used to do her laundry in a string of Mikimoto's finest pearls!

Pseu: Than you for this wise contribution; the "postponement for weight loss"- we wait to truly live till we think we "deserve" it by achieving a number.
I strongly urge anyone who has treasures they don't use either to donate them or sell them. Donating is really important if you can.

I do suffer from hoarding tendencies as the result of deprivation both in childhood and at times in adulthood (the latter as a result of a very, very unfortunate separation; we won't go into details). Have to fight that - we have a friend who is a compulsive hoarder and almost got evicted as a result - the daunting task of helping him get rid of all his carefully boxed "stuff" was a good push to fight hoarding.

pseu, I don't think the weight thing is exactly the same - sure, there is the facet of putting one's life on hold "until", but nobody wants to be publicly humiliated, look horrid or make a fool of him or herself.
LPC said…
I use that good china all the time:). Beats buying new not so good, right?
sisty said…
Quick! The ice cream is melting on our plates -- no time to analyze why we're not using the good china! Just break it out!

Great post. I keep telling myself to do this, but I don't actually do it. I'm going to start tonight.
sisty said…
And I do agree with pseu's weight loss analogy. Dress the body you're in now, a sure cure for looking horrid and feeling humiliated. No one has to see the size on that tag!
LaurieAnn said…
I love that saying "a life on hold is a life diminished." Boy have I learned that from growing up with my parents' depression/WWII scarcity issues plus my own experience raising a special needs child and having had cancer. Life is about right now.

Though we still save for the future; DH and I are traveling with our son now to make memories that we all can share. I find the beauty in the great art of the museums of the world to be soul nourishing as I do a good book savored with a cup of tea by the fire.

Donating items which aren't right for you is so important. Some things just need the freedom to go find their proper homes. Anything we hang on to, no matter how humble or fine, needs to be used and enjoyed otherwise it is best to let it move on its way.
Anonymous said…
Excellent post Duchesse, and a welcome reminder. Pseu is definitely right about the dressing your body point - I am trying to do that now, although I still aim to lose a bit more weight I am not beating myself up when I stall or slip back a bit. And I too am clearing stuff out, giving up on the hoarding and saving for a day that might never come. Live for the moment I say.
Tiffany said…
Thanks for that reminder - your timing is great! Excellent post and some interesting comments too.
Duchesse said…
sisty: I've seen women deliberately buy cheaper clothes "till I lost the weight"; I suspect that's what Pseu meant. I'm sad when I hear that as I believe beautiful is not a size.

LaurieAnn: You said it beautifully! Enjoy every museum.

Alienne: Isn't it remarkable how many commenters are getting rid of stuff? All the better to see your red carpet.
Kristine said…
We use our china every day. In fact, it's all we have.
materfamilias said…
You really struck a chord with this post, Duchesse!
mette said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
mette said…
I received a small inheritance after my mother. What I did with it, is totally the opposite she would have wished me to do with it. I have invested in fine jewelry ( which I will leave for my daughters in time), modern art, furniture, fine china, books and accessories. I also bought a tractor for my husband. I´m satisfied. As so many here have already commented, life is meant to be lived at the fullest.
SLF said…
I have to constantly remind myself to "use the good china" while I'm here in France. I just have to remind myself that one of the rewards of a lifetime of frugality is the ability to splurge when it matters the most.

--Frugal Son
Maravonda said…
My mother, at 76, is an unhappy woman, full of regret and missed opportunities, brought on by always saving everything for "best" and to quote Edith Bunker, "I guess there wasn't any "best". I throw away dishes with chips, wear my new clothes, sit on the new furniture and spray the new perfume with abandon (YSL's Parisienne, at the moment). I make plenty of mistakes but refuse to have regrets. When I am 76, I will still be using the good china, and will throw it out when it chips.
Don't throw away chipped or broken china or any dishes - take a hammer to them and use the shards in the bottom of your plant pots.
Shelley said…
My Dad used to say it was silly to save our best china for company, our best clothes for Sunday and our best manners for strangers.

I've learned to use my good china when we eat in the dining room and it is often by candlelight. I wear my best clothes on any occasion when I want a bit of extra confidence. My very best kindness goes first to those I love most. I hope I manage at least courtesy for the rest...
Duchesse said…
Kristine and Shelly: Though "use the good china" is a metaphor, it is also wise to do so literally!

lagatta: Or use as a pique-assiette mosaic or give to a ceramicist who can do so.

metscan: I'm too cautious to do what you did- and applaud your wisdom in knowing what was right for you!

Frugal Son: I am delighted that you're reading and will benevolently bug you to enjoy the full range of experiences (with price tags to match) while in France.

Maravonda: That is exactly where the 'saving it' takes each of us, to one degree or another. When my mother died I found a stack of cashmere sweaters my sister and I had given here, still encased in bags- most had been enjoyed only by moths.
I agree with you sentiments. I used to save certain better quality clothing for "special" occasions only. I now wear cashmere, Hermes scarves, pearls and diamonds on a daily basis. Why have lovely things if you do not enjoy them?
I agree with donating to charity items that you do not use and no longer want. I am a fan of charity shops and frequent them when I donate!
Duchesse said…
hostess of the humble bungalow: With all this encouragement think I will 'reverse hoard': use more perfume, wear even more jewelry, drink more champagne, etc!
Duchesse, I thorougly agree about the fine china and porcelain; the only problem there is the mechanics of finding an artist to give it too.

I certainly did not mean that people over the weight they want to be should refrain from buying expensive and beautiful clothes - if they can find them that is, as the offer is dismal - but that they might not want for example to wear a bikini - question of taste and self-awareness, that, not of denial.

Sad about your mum's sweaters; guess they were too moth-eaten for either of you to inherit them.

Did you have a post about moths? I found a lovely unworn pure-woollen garment in a charity shop and I don't want to lose it to moths, as I did a cachmere pullover.
Duchesse said…
lagatta: Sept. 4, 2008 post, "Cashmere Care" includes how to battle moths.
greying pixie said…
I think this is a wonderful lesson for everyone and reading your post this morning has lifted my spirits no end. I suspect it is the basis of living well but so easy to forget in these hectic stressful times. I shall start today!

Thank you Duchesse.
Great post - very wise!

I have a set of spode china that has never come out of its boxes (no where to keep it, need a sideboard).

I do use daily the crystal wine glasses we were given at our wedding. So far in 8 years only 1 broken!
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