Tuesday, December 7, 2010

In Search of...a special occasion

I’ve been cleaning out closets for what seems like forever. In a house that once was home to five people and is now down to two, it is a Herculean feat to decide what to keep when looking at things that once might have been considered precious, or cherished, or even necessary for daily life. But in this challenge lies the opportunity to determine what is precious, cherished and necessary to me, and that is a gift.

I started trying to clean out the house when my mother was still alive, and I continued intermittently after her death. But she was the one who knew and remembered everything, and so the sentimental value of many things is lost on me if I cannot determine from whence they came. Even relatives from “the old country” in photos taken in previous centuries are forever unidentifiable to me now.

Some I choose to hold onto for no other reason than the fact that I know they are part of my lineage, and I find some meaning in the fact that the shape of my fingers or tilt of my head resembles these unknown people. Some I choose to discard because nothing resonates with me.

I decided to clean out a cabinet containing predominantly glassware. I could tell which things my mother picked out and which things she cherished by their location. I could tell what was valued most by how infrequently it was used. And that made me sad. I asked my father about some of the glasses, and he echoed what I’m certain was also my mother’s sentiment – “Those are the good glasses. Put them back for a special occasion.”

Special occasion?! Was he joking? No, he wasn’t. He was absolutely earnest and uncensored when he said that. And that’s when I decided that change was going to come immediately to our lives.

I have lost enough people I love and I have seen the flood waters of Nashville make their way to my doorstep, and I can tell you with great certainty that every day is a “special occasion.” If you wake up in the morning, it’s a special occasion. Use the good china. That’s what I’m saying to you. This is the only moment there is. Savor and enjoy something beautiful that delights your heart. Why not relish the fact that there is something beautiful in this world, even if it’s a drinking glass.

So I’ve decided to let go of what doesn’t mean anything to me so that I can make room for what does. I will spend my days knowing that the good china isn’t going with me when I leave this world. In fact, in the blink of an eye all that I’ve possessed can be swept away. So I’m drinking from the good glasses and I plan on sharing that experience with anyone who visits. I want to live each day knowing that it is a special occasion, meant to be shared, enjoyed, appreciated and fully used up. So I’m going to wear the gaudy ring I bought at a garage sale, spray the good perfume, and pull out what I’ve been saving. The special occasion is here. Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.


  1. I am SO far behind in your blogs, but I'm catching up!

    As someone with a bit of OCD, I'm all about purging. I do not like clutter. I watch Hoarders on A&E. People hang on to far too much stuff. As a psychologist on a TV show once said, "Your grandmother is not in that chair." And what she meant is that the people we love and who are no longer with us do not live in the objects we try to hold on to.

    As for China and crystal, I'm with you. I never understood why so many women register for China for their weddings and never use it. They're dishes. Nice dishes, but dishes nonetheless. As long as you don't break them out for your five-year-old's birthday party, I say use them as often as you like.

    I also have an album full of pictures of people I don't know. It was my grandmother's photo album and it's a piece of my history, and as photographs are fast becoming extinct, I figure I'll hold onto it for a while.

  2. Yay, come on over and we can eat on some nice dishes!