This week I did something I’ve never done before. Something crazy. What did I do, you might ask? I actually used our good china. On a weeknight! And it wasn’t even a holiday. Now, I know what you’re thinking. So what? This doesn’t sound like some kind of monumental thing, but trust me, it is. In my house we rarely use the good stuff. Heck, we rarely use real plates at all.No. The good china is for holidays and maybe my husband Don‘s birthday, or mine. For years I’ve felt that it was too precious for daily use. So in the uppermost cabinets of our tiny NYC apartment it stayed.
The thing that changed my mind was an old interview of Marcia Wallace, former co-star of The Bob Newhart show and The Simpsons. Wallace has been in the news lately due to her sad passing last week. But while Wallace has typically tried to stay out of the limelight, she has long been someone I looked up to. We’ve had some similar struggles in our lives and I admire the fact that she used humor to help get herself past difficult times. One thing that stuck out at me while reading this interview was something her husband told her as he was dying of cancer:
“Oh honey, this is horrible. But I am so glad we used our good china,” Wallace said. “It was a metaphor for our lives together. We didn’t wait to do the things we wanted to do or say the things we wanted to say. You don’t want to die with a lot of regrets.”
Wallace went on to say that she lived her life by that one off the cuff remark that her husband made. In 2008 she told the graduating class at Luzerne County Community College “Be true to yourself, be good to yourself and use your good china,” and this is advice that I have taken to heart. So this week I got up on a ladder, opened up the highest cabinet (while miraculously not breaking my neck) and brought out our good china. To use. With real food, and not just fancy holiday meals.
The past year has been a difficult one for me. I lost two grandparents, including the grandmother who was instrumental in my upbringing. My oldest child lost both her grandparents on her dad’s side, both of whom we were close with. One of my closest friends was killed in a car accident back in January, and almost a year ago to the day my neighborhood was decimated by Hurricane Sandy. Sometimes it feels like I am the biblical Job being tested by god (and I am not a religious person, as I’ve discussed on Mommyish before). Never before has it been clearer to me that life is precious and short and should be enjoyed. And there is no reason that enjoyment can’t include the good china, dammit!
I plan to use it, and not let it collect dust all year long. Instead of letting its beauty go to waste (until I die and my kids either fight over it or forget about it), I’m going to enjoy the hell out of it, even if I’m just making Kraft dinner.