Monday, July 09, 2007

Opening the Cupboard

Every Sunday of my growing up years, we ate our noon meal - or dinner - from these plates. Named "Autumn Gold", they display a buttery border, rimmed in gold with shocks of wheat in the center. They are a remnant from my childhood; a lovely reminder of our days on the farm and all those Sunday meals around the old oak table. Though those family dishes were given to my sister, my dear mother-in-law found exact duplicates at a flea market. I was thrilled, stacked them neatly, and carefully put them away in the buffet.

Many years ago after my paternal grandmother passed away, my grandfather gave each of us something that was dear to her. I received this beautiful set of Noritake China. Called "Serena", it has an intricate pattern of vines and ribbons that wind around delicate posies reminiscent of my grandmother's garden. They are a reminder of her love for beautiful things and of time spent among her flowers. I carefully unwrapped the old newspaper from around them and set them aside so they wouldn't be broken.

When my husband and I were married, my oldest brother was unable to attend our wedding. After the ceremony, we received a package from overseas. Inside was a hand-blown lemonade pitcher and matching glasses. Six fragile straws were wrapped in tissue that fit within small openings of each glass. I was delighted and charmed...and promptly put them in the glass cupboard so they could be seen, but not touched.

Then one day I realized that though beautiful, antique, and original I wouldn't truly get enjoyment from these lovely things unless they were used and shared. I remember reading a list written by Erma Bombeck about things she regretted in her life and one of them was this: "I wish I would have burned the beautiful candle sculpted like a rose instead of letting it melt in storage."

Life is like that, too. We can bury ourselves in the cupboard, collecting dust and melting away because we're afraid we may be broken. But that wasn't God's intention. In all that we do, there is risk: risk that we may fall or fail, risk that we may hurt, stumble, cry. But for every moment of frustration and pain, there are equal counterparts of delight and joy. It is a step at a time, a constant journey that when shared with others makes it lighter, more meaningful, more loving.

Though sorrow and hardships come to us all, it is the giving and sharing of ourselves that takes away the bitterness....and leaves something sweet and lasting in its place.


martie said...

I recall the list of Erma's that you refer too, and I also feel the same way. I too, have taken out some things to use and enjoy on an everyday basis instead of leaving them for special occasions! Life is way to short to not have the pleasure of enjoying all we can while waiting for our 'big journey'!

Hugs and thanks for this lovely post!

Martin said...

I think you are right that things must really be used. The true "value" of something is in it's beauty or story or meanings. A thing put in a box is only a thing in a box and will never acquire it's stories of it's own and mean nothing.

You are right life has to be lived. Hemingway said: "In going where you have to go, and doing what you have to do, and seeing what you have to see, you dull and blunt the instrument you write with. But I would rather have it bent and dulled and know I had to put it on the grindstone again and hammer it into shape and put a whetstone to it, and know that I had something to write about, than to have it bright and shining and nothing to say, or smooth and well oiled in the closet, but unused."

KellyGirl said...

What lovely gifts! I think it's wise to use all those nice things. Since I am packing again, I have gone through some dishes and gifts that I have received since I have been a homeowner. Sometimes I think, "Oh, this may be valuable one day". Then I have to tell myself "Who cares". It's nice to enjoy these things now! I found some mint green plates about 3 years ago at an antique store that date back to the 50s. A few months ago, I started researching the set on ebay and another site that I can't seem to remember right now. I have enough for 3 table settings right now. I wasn't sure if I was going to use them once I move, but hey, I am going to! Why not!

clew said...

I too know this Bombeck list you referenced. It changed my attitude toward a lot of things! Glad you're enjoying your collections.

Thanks for keeping in touch, Lori. Love you so much!

Intern said...

what a lovely post!!!!
very well written ... yes it's best to use small little treasures than pack thm away ...