One of the subjects she touched upon was the need to "lighten up" and enjoy life and what we are blessed to have. If I could have jumped through the monitor, I would have given Nan a big *high five*.
I've mentioned before that I grew up in a home where if it "looks good on the outside, it's good on the inside". Our house was always spotless, with everything in its place. It always had to perfect, you know......in case someone stops over. It also felt like I lived in a museum as my mom had so many showcased items displayed throughout the house. We even had the living room that no-one was really allowed to be in.
My job was dusting.....man, I hated that job. Still do. The fact that I had to spend two hours every Saturday morning in that uninhabited living room, wiping down each and every Hummel figurine and making sure they went back in the exact same spot is definitely the reason I have this aversion to dusting. It also explains why I have a whole family of dust bunnies staying with us in our home....and boy, it is so true about bunnies multiplying. ;)
We had the guest towels in the bathroom. These were the decorative towels that hung right near the sink, but you would not dare use them! "Those are for show", she would tell us. Show? What show?
We had the highest thread count sheets......but we only used them on the spare/guest bed. We even had certain foods we couldn't eat/touch because that was for if company stopped over.
Or how about the china set that she had incarcerated behind glass doors in her hutch. Yeah, there was even a little lock/key. In the 18 years I lived there, I don't ever remember using those plates. "That set is worth thousands", she would remind us. "You see that gravy
I used to tease her if she complained about an unexpected bill coming in and not having the money.....I offered to accidentally knock into her china hutch and smash a few pieces. I'm good like that. She didn't take me up on my offer, nor did she find it remotely amusing.
So the point is.....she got so wrapped up in these materialistic possessions, and worse yet......never even used them and enjoyed them. And in retrospect, the message that was sent to us (unintentionally) was that we (including herself) were not worth using the good towels or plates.
Funny thing, after my parents retired.....they did some financial planning and decided to drop the insurance on some items, including that precious china. She said it was because they do not even make the set anymore, so there was no point to keeping it insured if it couldn't be replaced.....No clue behind that reasoning.
So she visited the other day and made a lovely comment about the mason jar I served her Crystal Light in. " WOW, I see you are breaking out the best for me, huh? How much do you have this insured for?" I reminded her that A: It doesn't matter if it is a $35 goblet from Lenox or a 99 cent recycled spaghetti sauce jar....it still smashes the same way when it hits my tile floor. And B: I really don't give a rat's butt about fine china. Does nothing for me.
Now, I can appreciate how beautiful it looks when someone has their table set with a gorgeous set....but's it's just not me or how I roll. My special set is a Mexican motif stoneware set I scored at Pier 1 when it went on clearance a few years ago. I think I paid $60 for a complete set for 8.......and I break out those bad boys whenever I get the chance. I want to enjoy them with my family and friends, not hoard them and keep them packed away.
So we started talking about her beloved china set and she went on her rant about how much that set is worth. Normally I would just yeah yeah her to death, but I felt the need to shine some Light on it once and for all. So I started by trying to nicely explain to her something that Josh has always said.
Something is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. So you could have this one of a kind vintage Elvis ash tray that you were told was worth $2000, but it isn't worth a cent if no-one is interested in buying it.
I didn't really want to burst her bubble.......well, OK, so I did just a teeny bit (devil horns peeking through my frizzy hair)......and we went on EBay to see what her valuable china was going for these days. My mom had her chin held high as she spelled out "Franciscan Desert Rose" into the search bar. She got very excited when she saw photos of her set appear on the screen (remember, she doesn't even own a computer) so she started yelling, "That's my Set! That's my Set!". I had to explain to her that it actually was someone else's set and they were trying to sell theirs. (*sigh* now I know how my kids feel with me and my lack of techy coolness)
But when we saw the search results, she wasn't holding her head up so high, and her chin started to droop as we discovered that a full 8 place setting didn't even get one single bid. (Do a search on Ebay, it's downright sad) We even did search for that infamous gravy boat and saw that it brought in a whopping $11.49 one time!
I felt a sense of sadness for her at that time.....how disappointed she must have felt to think that she spent so much time, money and energy into something that was not worth anything after it was all said and done. And the worst part is.....she didn't even enjoy using it. It's value should have been based on how much joy it brought her.....not what was written on an appraisal slip.
I also now felt sorry that my motive was to burst that bubble.....and I needed to make it right. I wanted to turn it around, so I suggested that even though Ebay is telling her that it isn't worth anything,....it still is worth something to her and she should start enjoying it. And the bonus part is that she doesn't have to feel bad if a plate chips or a saucer gets broken. I hoped that maybe this could release the stress/burden of worrying about the monetary value of stuff, and bring some joy and increase her happiness/emotional value. I made the suggestion that maybe going home with this newly discovered information.....she would feel free from that burden by just taking that gravy boat and smashing it.
Again, that didn't go over well.
Oh, and Nan made another great point .......she asked "What are we teaching our children about things if we don't enjoy what we have? If we teach them that things are to be preserved but not enjoyed?"
Here's something else to think about.....life is short. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. We can leave this earth at any time. Only God knows that date and it is written in His Book of Life....so I want to make sure I live and enjoy every day that I am given. I don't want to find out in my last days, that the things I thought were worth so much, like that china..... really were not worth anything.
This applies to my time and emotions as well as material things. I don't want to spend so much time rushing around to make everything showcase quality, only to come up feeling tired, empty and worthless at the end of the day. Of course I need to set some time aside to keep my home clean and somewhat tidy.....but it isn't my main priority (as you would see if/when you came to visit). I have always said.....if you are coming to visit me, pop on over anytime. If you are coming to see my home....call and make an appointment. I want my kids to know that I can leave the house a little messy so we can go bowling or catch a movie. I've always said that trying to keep a house neat as a pin with kids is like shoveling during a snowstorm anyway.
So yeah.....I want to spend as much time enjoying my life and keeping my house a home. A home that is beautiful, not because of the things in it.....but for the joy it brings others. My family and friends are important enough for me to spend more time with them, rather than spending time getting everything in order just to spend time with them, if that makes sense.
I want to always use my favorite mugs when friends visit for coffee.....and they can use what ever towel they want to wipe their hands in the bathroom. I am going to share everything that God has blessed me with. Like Matthew 6:20 reminds us....the only treasures I want to store up are the ones in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
* side note~This doesn't mean it is wrong to have nice things in our life.....God wants us to enjoy blessings. But enjoy is the key word.
He also loves a generous sharing spirit. I want my family and friends to always know that this house and everything in it is theirs to enjoy. Including me and my time.
One man gives freely, yet gains even more;
another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
A generous man will prosper;
he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed Proverbs 11:24-25
So I ask you today.....are you enjoying and sharing what you have?