Treasures in Cardboard Boxes?

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When we got engaged we chose a “casual” china pattern. As far as I was concerned, they were our good dishes — and our only dishes. I loved the pattern, and didn’t want anything else.

Once kids came along, I started rethinking “the good and only” part of the scenario, and we got some plain white dishes that were cheap, but flawed. A few years later when my mother-in-law was breaking up housekeeping, she gave us her dishes, all 17-place settings, and those became our everyday. Well, some of them, anyway.

This summer when I started staging for living and thinking about downsizing, I realized that we ate off dishes that someone else might enjoy more than I was doing. It was an extensive set that others might benefit from. I was able to sell them to ladies who really wanted them for what I hope was a great price.

That was a hard week. My mother-in-law had purchased those dishes later in life. FishPapa had no memories attached to them. We weren’t sentimentally attached to them.

But, it made me sad to think of her buying dishes for the Someday when she would gather together all her kids and grandkids in a home of her own. That day never came. She never lived to see the dream of home ownership or to welcome all her children and grandchildren in one place.

Yeah, I cried more than a few tears unpacking those storage boxes.

Originally, I thought I might buy another cheap, white set of everyday dishes. But, as I cried and wiped cobwebs from my face, I remembered that Erma Bombeck story from years ago. She died of cancer also. And she wrote,

If I had my life to live over…. I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage. I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.

That’s when I decided to bust out my “good dishes” and make them everyday. Even if one piece survives my children’s childhood, I want them to have beautiful memories of meals and laughter shared together.

Later I found my “good” china teapot broken in a storage box. Confirmation that it’s better to store your treasure in heaven and not in a cardboard box in the garage.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. — Matthew 6:19-21

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  1. I decided to do that a few years back and now what’s happened is that a lot were broken. But quite frankly, it doesn’t matter. They broke because we USED them and enjoyed them. It doesn’t matter. We shouldnt be so attached to things like that anyway.

  2. thank you for this post…I know how we find ourselves “saving” an outfit for that special time…and I, as a “lunchlady” in a the public school system, wear a uniform EVERY DAY. (nothing too gross..but still a uniform) so I have a CLOSET full of clothes that just wait and wait and wait. Even my church is more “casual” on Sunday…so, again, my clothes just wait and wait and wait. Well, last year, I made up my mind…NO MORE. In the summer when I’m off work…on Sundays…even if I go to the grocery store… I don’t pull out my shorts and t’s. I pull out a blouse, or even a skirt… granted, I’m probably the most dressed up gal at Burger King…but I don’t care. I’m not gonna wait. My Aunt, died of brain cancer far too young. She and my Uncle worked hard their whole lives for retirement and she only saw a few years of that … They saved to buy a summer home, a pontoon boat…and she only got a couple of years on it … So, I don’t care… I have pretty things and I’m gonna enjoy them. Because, really, who the heck cares if you get ketchup and fry grease on that blouse?? 🙂 Thanks again for your lovely posts…!

    1. Every time I “dress up” I have people say “why are you so dressed up today.”

      By dressed up, I mean I put on a casual skirt, tshirt and flip flops.

      Thank you for sharing your story – makes me feel better that I’m not the only one “dressed up”…I just like to wear pretty things that I feel good in.

  3. I love Erma Bombeck’s thoughts on this. You’ll be so happy you decided to use your good dishes. Who are the special things for, if not for the loves of our life?
    When I married I was given a set of china, loved the thought, not the pattern. When our oldest was about 6 I decided we’d use these dishes all the time. My theory was if they got used all the time, and with the little helping hands of my children, they’d need to be replaced in no time. Well, after 18 years and many moves (military), those dishes are STILL perfect! That china made my sweet babies feel special and loved! I had no idea that’s what would have resulted, I just wanted new china! As always, thanks for another great blog post 🙂

  4. Wonderful post! After almost 20 years of marriage there are still 4 settings of our “good” dishes in their original boxes. I’ve lately been thinking of using them every day. Though our youngest is still only 3, the time to enjoy them is now. Who knows what the future will bring?

  5. Thanks for the reminder and encouragement! So true!
    I have “special” dishes in my cupboard that never get used (maybe 3 times in almost 20 years! That’s embarrassing!!). I may just have to get them out today and serve my sick little girl some lunch on them!!
    Lori 🙂

  6. When I was growing up my grandmother used her good China every Sunday. Some of the pieces are chipped from lots of loving and living, she always took the teacup with the most chips. So many memories I have sitting around her huge diningroom table with family and friends. She is now 94, and living the “retired” life, somedays she struggles to remember. This 4th of July we hosted our large family at our new place. She was having a not so good day with her memory. It was dessert time and although I used paper plates for the BBQ I wanted to use her China for the dessert. I thought it would be fun to surprise her and see if she remembered. I served her cake and then handed her coffee in the chipped cup she always used. She brightened right away and became my Nana again chipper and talkative. I was so happy to be able to give my her and the rest of my family that gift.

  7. I couldn’t agree more! We do have a set of “good” dishes but it is only a 4 placesetting and we use it regularly, whenever the “plain” set is dirty 🙂

    I also decided not to bother with a formal diningroon set – it rarely gets used except on holidays and our kitchen dining table is large and solid wood, so why would I need another one? Our formal diningroom is now my husbands office and it works much better that way.

  8. I love this, Jessica! We have a set of Redskins glasses that were my grandfather’s, and we use them, even though we’re risking the chance of breaking them, because it gives me so many opportunities and reminders to share stories about him with my girls. Honestly, we have broken two, and I cried each time (and maybe when we only have one left, I’ll stop using it), but what good is having them if I just leave them packed away anyway?

  9. amen … I have a ‘fish platter’ that I finally started to use with all the teen gatherings (it’s now known as the ‘fruit plate’) … I was so afraid it would get broken and realized that it’s just a plate that the kids all LOVE and can be replaced if necessary … although, I will admit that we have a china set stored from Hubbys grandmother to give the first kid that gets married …

  10. I realized this several years ago when I unpacked some Christmas dishes and discovered that the third plate down (out of 4) had snapped in half somehow. I cried, and then I realized that it was JUST STUFF – not eternal. It was a wonderful lightbulb moment for me when I realized that I had grown too attached to the things of this world when it was only people and eternity that matter. While I still try to take care of what God has given me to steward, I also don’t freak out if something breaks – especially if someONE breaks it, because they are far more important. I’ve actually been writing about this over on the blog as I’ve been working on simplifying the house. You can catch the first part here:

    Tomorrow’s post is all about how I’ve been reevaluating what I have cluttering up my walls. 🙂 Simple is good.

    LOVED this post – and LOVE your honesty and LOVE that you’re using your dishes!! 🙂

  11. I loved this post, too! Like most Southerners, I have “Christmas china”. I decided about 10 years ago to start using it every day that I could … so on the day after Thanksgiving, I swap out our dishes for our Christmas china and we use it every meal until about a week or two after Christmas. I have to hand wash it, which you would think would be an ordeal during the holiday season, but it actually reminds me to slow down and enjoy life. My family will always remember our special china and our fun holiday times!!

    1. Patti, THAT is brilliant! I too have Christmas china — and I’m going to try this out this year. What a super idea!

  12. I learned this lesson the hard way as well. My mom gave me a large set of mismatched, adorable antique China teacups and saucers that were my great grandmas. Because my kids were quite small, I kept them in the box she gave them in. We moved three times and the box moved around with us and was always put in storage. A couple years ago, our basement flooded and as I was going through soaking boxes, I came across the teacups. All wrapped in newspaper, still in their box. I unwrapped one and it was in about 5 pieces. I unwrapped the rest and every last cup and saucer was destroyed. Probably in one of the moves. I was so upset. Since then, nothing of the sort goes in storage. It is proudly displayed or used.