October 14, 2013

{Simple Hospitality, Day 11} Use The Good China

This article is republished from the archives, from way back when only I and my mother-in-law read this blog. It seemed fitting for these 31 days.  

As we passed the time at a farmers market one spring morning, a friend told me a tragic story.

Her beautiful table linens,
the ones passed down from her great grandmother,
the ones with beautiful intricate designs and embroidery,
the ones that where just to good to use....

...had been eaten by mice.

The linens she had gently washed and pressed and folded and then placed safely in a drawer, each one separated by a piece of parchment paper....

 ...destroyed.  Garbage.  Gone.

Friends, use your good stuff:  the antique silverware, the irreplaceable china, and yes, great grandmas linens.
My friend was saddened to see her linens destroyed.  Of course she was, they represented something important to her.  But the only difference between when she had those linens and now is that now she's got a drawer freed up to fill with things she will actually use.

Be it  mice, or fire, or a dinner guest dropping it on the floor, one day you will be separated from all of your beautiful things. Accept this. Say good bye to all of those beautiful things.  And then truly appreciate their beauty as you use them to serve the people you love most.

Once you have already said good-bye, when that trying-to-be-helpful dinner guest drops a supposedly priceless heirloom and the whole room comes to a standstill and everyone turns to look and see how you are going to respond... you can smile.  And tell them you knew that would happen eventually.  No harm done, except for maybe a couple tears shed in the kitchen while the coffee brews.

When my friend told me her story of the linens, I started to wonder if maybe the things we own, no matter how sentimental, are completely meaningless until we have used them to serve somebody else. Use your beautiful things.  Use them to serve the people in your life who are truly priceless.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. {Matthew 6:19-21}


  1. This is wonderful! Such a great message!

  2. I have to agree. I was sad when a little crystal bowl given to us for our wedding was knocked off the counter a few weeks ago, but I was glad it had been used for 17 years instead of tucked away gathering dust. It's the same for special clothes and jewelry - use it, that's what it's for.

  3. I love the clarity and reality with which you see things. It is so refreshing. Thanks for sharing.

  4. YES! Tricia (above comment) sent me a link to this post because she thought I'd like to read it. She was right! I'm also participating in the 31-day challenge, and my series this year is 31 Life Lessons from Linens. I actually have a post scheduled this month about "using the good stuff." :-) Great lesson you shared today!

  5. I just hosted my first ever Thanksgiving, and I served my cranberry sauce in a gorgeous turquoise china dish that was my grandmothers which usually just sits on a shelf to be admired. It felt so good to honor my Nana and my guests by using such a beautiful serving piece. You are so right Kelly, these treasures can mean so much more when they are beautiful AND useful!

  6. After my grandmother passed, we found a box of china in the closet. It was her wedding china, carefully packed away. I'd never seen it in my lifetime and it was obvious she hadn't used it in a long time. Whether it was packed away because of a few small chips, or because she had put her own mother's china in the hutch, we'll never know. But what I do know is that I took that china home, washed it up, and now bring it out for Thanksgiving every year. This year, my own set of china (given to me by my father) will be incorporated into our festivities, as well as Great-Grandma's silver. The good stuff is only good if you use it!

  7. Love this post! And the series. Before we had kids, my hubby and I would eat off the "good dishes" every once in awhile for a date night at home. Even if it was just mac and cheese. I didn't want to grow old with a china cabinet full of unused dishes. I haven't used them much since kids because we have a ceramic tile floor and I'm worried the kids will drop them and they'll break. But I think it's time they made an appearance again. Because I still don't want a cabinet filled with unused dishes. Even if we still just eat mac and cheese on them :)

  8. Amen to that. No point having stuff tucked away in cupboards that is never used.
    We got a lot of beautiful glassware as wedding gifts & we have it in a lovely glass-fronted cabinet so I see it every day, but we also drink out of them all the time (life's too short to drink wine (or anything!) out of a bad glass) and I have broken more of them than I would have liked, but I'd rather that than just having them sit there & gather dust.
    I have beautiful embroidered linen & cotton table cloths, some of which now have stains on them, but I'd far rather that than a mouse eating them.
    I love sitting down to a midweek dinner where the table is set & we are using what we have & what we love regardless of whether it came from a thrift shop, a high-end department store, my great-grandmother or the supermarket homeware dept.

  9. I loved reading your blog. We have been using our "good" stuff. Seven yrs ago our son, who was 26 yrs old, passed away from a cancerous brain tumor. Although we have all our wonderful memories of him, we also have all of his stuff. I have decided that I was always waiting for something special to come along to use some of our "good" stuff and now we have come to realize that everyday is a special day if we have each other and our health. I urge everyone to not wait for that "special" time but to find a special moment in each and everyday because you don't know what may happen in any given moment to change your life forever.

  10. I agree with this a thousand percent. I apply it to clothing and shoes, as well. Especially if you're a stay at home mom/wife, it can be tempting to keep your "good" stuff only for special occasions, but why not look nice every day?

  11. I love this! I don't always do this, but I really need to try to more. Because it really is just 'stuff'. I fall victim to the thought, "I am saving this for a special time, place, person, event, etc." and never end up using whatever it is before it goes bad or something else happens to it. Today, and every day, is a special day and I have to remember that. I have always thought it is sad that we often treat guests and strangers better than our own families, when they truly are the most important people in our lives. They deserve the special dishes, soaps, and linens just as much as our guests do, if not more! :)

  12. Great point! This is exactly why I am selling my wedding china. I never use it- we're not fancy folk. I'd like to have the money to help pay my kiddos tuition for our homeschool group and I'd like to have the space it takes up on the shelves to use for displaying pictures of said children! My proper southern mother -who insisted that I register for the china in the first place- is, properly, horrified... I LOVE the idea of picking out the cheap Walmart "china" that is trendy and to my taste and replacing it every handful of years after they've all broken!

  13. I always have used the good things. ( except on lazy days when I use paper/plastic). It is sweet to see precious linens, china and silver about the rooms. Great advice. God Bless. Carole

  14. thanks to this post, I used my best dishes & flatware last night. thank you

  15. This is a great reminder to me. We received a set of four gorgeous crystal wine glasses for our wedding and after three years have yet to use them. (They're too pretty! They're too fragile! Blah blah blah) What a waste. I'm going to get them out today for dinner. :)

  16. I loved this post, such a good reminder!

  17. I totally agree that we should use our "good" stuff. My husband is more of the "keep it on the shelf so it doesn't get broken" type, but I love to use things . . . especially things that have been passed down from previous generations. I feel such a connection with the people that I've loved and lost! And yes, things do get broken, and I may have a moment later after everyone has gone home, but I simply smile and reassure my guest that friends and family are all that matter, not possessions.


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