When my children were small they had an uncanny way of knowing when I was about to leave the house.
“Where are you going Mommy?” one of my children would always ask before I told them I was leaving.
“Why do you think I’m going somewhere?” I answered.
“Because you have lipstick on,” my child said.
That’s when I realized I always put on lipstick before I left the house. That comment got me thinking. Why do I try to look my best for strangers and not my own family? I rarely fixed myself up or wore my nice clothes at home. I decided to change my habits. Eventually the children stopped asking me where I was going when I put lipstick on because I wasn’t going anywhere.
This change of heart also helped me notice I was saving my best linens, bath towels and dishes for special holidays or when house guests were staying in my home. I decided the people who actually live at my house certainly deserve to enjoy our nicest things. So I began using my best sheets, towels and dishes for everyday. Yes, sometimes those nice things got stained, broken or ruined but I could always replace them. I couldn’t replace the time I had with my husband and children. I stopped waiting for special occasions or house guests. Enjoying and using my best all the time reminds me to value myself and the members of my own family. When I live this way, every day is a special occasion and each person in my home is treated like an important guest.
When my mother-in-law died her daughters divided up her only set of nice china and gave one place setting to each surviving child. I asked my sister-in-law why I’d never seen those beautiful dishes or eaten off them.
“Mom was afraid they’d get broken and she wouldn’t be able to buy new ones.”
We all tend to put off using or sharing our best things. We protect and save until we die. Then nobody ever gets to eat off our nice dishes or see us in our fancy dress or nice suit – not even us! We wait too long to delight in what we already have. We collect and store instead of use or give away because we harbor some illusive fear that our good things will be ruined. Perhaps the real ruin is in hoarding. If we don’t offer our best to those we love today, the opportunity may be lost forever.
“You and your husband are good savers,” an older woman told me once. “But don’t forget to enjoy your money as you go along. My husband and I never went on vacations or bought each other nice gifts because we were responsibly and dutifully saving for retirement. That’s when we were going to start enjoying our lives together. Well my husband died the day before he retired and now I am left with all our savings but no companion to share it with and no fun memories to keep me warm at night.”
There is no tomorrow – but only today. Life is short. The day to buy that special gift, go on that dreamed about vacation or use your best china is today. None of us know if we have a tomorrow and by then the opportunity has past. Those closest to us deserve our best every single day.