Only for Special Occasions

When I was growing up, my parents had a set of china, but then acquired another set. This is one of the plates of the first set:

We used the first set more often. As a consequence, I remember breaking at least one of these plates.

The second set has plates with a gold rim and blue flowers. I don’t have a photo of this set. Because my brothers and I had a tendency to . . . ahem . . . break things, they were rarely used. Only on special occasions—like maybe Christmas and Easter. We called them “the good plates.” They had to be hand washed and dried—careful, careful—and quickly stored away. (Whew, didn’t break anything.) They certainly could never be used in the microwave.

Mom has a set of pearls—also only used for special occasions back then. But the occasions that came our way didn’t seem special enough. So, she never wore them.

Until . . .

Until one of her closest friends died of breast cancer. She was 34 years old. Suddenly, the just-for-special-occasions rule seemed too narrow, especially when Mom went through her first bout of cancer. Every day was worth celebrating. Every day was precious. So, we started using the good plates more often. Mom wore her pearls too.

I don’t have a photo of the pearls either. But you don’t need to see them to consider the things that are just for special occasions in your life. You know—the things you think are “too good” for every day use.

Maybe take out those pearls. Wear that sweater, that jacket. Break out the good plates or that fancy stemware, even if you’re just having a meal of Ramen noodles. Why? Because you’re special. Not just the day. You.

P.S. Please keep the people of Texas in your thoughts and prayers. They have had a time of it with the cold and the power outages.

China plate photo by Stan Washington. Other photos by L. Marie.

41 thoughts on “Only for Special Occasions

  1. Great message! I shall dig out the jewellery I never wear because I keep it for special occasions that never happen (especially in eternal lockdown!), and my mother’s “special” dinner set shall promptly be dug out of the box in the cupboard where it has been sitting since she died twelve years ago! It will go well with tonight’s macaroni cheese… 😀

    • Sorry to hear of your mom’s passing.
      Yes, dig out those plates! I might have to break out the good stemware to use with my apple juice, but hopefully not break anything in the process. 😄

  2. If the past year has taught me anything it’s that life as we know it can change in an instant and without notice. Whether it’s the death of a loved one, an illness, financial ruin, or a global pandemic. Every day should be appreciated, not dreaded. Peaceful, not full of noise and hate. I hope your mother is still wearing those pearls.

    • We talked about the plates the other day. She has worn the pearls, just not recently, because she seldom leaves home these days. But what you said is true. Life can change in an instant.

  3. Your photos are precious and your memories are priceless. I liked especially this line: Every day was precious. So, we started using the good plates more often. Mom wore her pearls too.

    My mother used the “good plates” often when we were growing up because we had company every few months or so, a PA Dutch tradition. Now, during the pandemic, I nudge my husband to eat in the dining room with candles and good china just to feel special, instead of on trays in the family room.

    Great topic, L. Marie!

    • Thanks, Marian! So glad you persuaded Cliff to eat in the dining room. Isn’t it funny how we don’t do things like that, unless company is over?

      I have some really nice glasses that I never use. They are gathering dust in the cabinet. Time to get them out!

  4. Good post, L. Since we’ve been stuck indoors, I haven’t wanted to wear my “nicer” sweaters for just being around the house and seeing no one. Since I caught covid and had a hard time of it (doing better now), I like this philosophy you’ve shared. It’s the good sweaters from now on!
    P.S. Can’t wait until we can dig out of all this snow.

  5. You’re singing my song, L.Marie.
    On a semi-related note: COVID has brought out the gems (really, just a coincidental pun) in my jewelry box to pair up with the top-centric outfits I wear during ZOOMing with family and friends. Just for fun!
    Earrings are hard to wear with a mask so my go-to adornment has all but bit the dust…hence the reunion with some neglected necklaces and bracelets! Funny, that.
    And yes, Texans are in dire need…not just the weather and power outages and water issues…but the rampant price gouging going on in the name of ‘supply and demand’. Those companies should be ashamed.

    • Sigh. Masks are the bane of our existence!
      Glad you’ve enjoyed your Zoom family calls, Laura! I’ll bet a lot of people give similar attention to the tops and necklaces for the same reason. 😄 (Though I also consider what else I have on, since I have occasionally had to stand up and get something during Zoom calls.)

  6. Love this post, Linda. We had good plates at our house, too. Isn’t it funny how we are always waiting for something special to celebrate? Things can definitely change in an instant, and what wouldn’t be considered a reason to celebrate can suddenly become one. I use my special stuff now. Stemware and plates and whatever else I thought I was saving (and protecting for) ‘that day.’ It’s all useless if not used.

  7. When we moved, we decided to use the good plates every day. We had a lot of them for wedding gifts and had never used them. We don’t have large parties and don’t really have small parties either. So it’s now or never.

  8. This is a very touching post with a good message. What are we waiting for? All the things we save and don’t use is a sad commentary on the life we don’t live … for some reason. I have “good” dishes I seldom use. Of course, this year, because of COVID, I eat alone. Maybe I should use my good dishes occasionally anyway.

  9. “You’re special. Not just the day. You.” Wow, thank you! I didn’t know I needed to hear that. This reminds me of all the clothes languishing in my closet because I’ve nowhere to go. And also brings to mind a friend who created a black tie dinner event in her home just for her family because they simply felt like getting dressed up 🙂

    • You brought up a good point about clothes, Laura. I have clothes in my closet that I haven’t worn in ages!

      Love the idea of that black tie event! And how cool that her family was game for in (instead of complaining). 😄

  10. I grew up like you did, there were formal dishes and silverware– and there were everyday items. I have both, too. As for my pearls, I haven’t worn them in years, maybe a decade even. I bet they’d look great with my jammies, which seem to be my daywear now that I’m stuck at home. Off to find them…

  11. We have too “good plates “, Linda, but they were not china but earthenware of style
    And my wife Janine can not wear pearl or golden collar since robbers visited our house and took the all of the bijoux three years ago!
    Love ❤

  12. What a lovely post! My husband inherited his mom’s special dinnerware many years ago. It’s beautiful white China with purple and green splashes that make me think of birds. It’s a 12-serving set complete with gravy boat, cream and sugar set, etc. We put it all up in our attic because we were using restaurant-style plates and bowls and were afraid we’d break his mom’s dishes. About ten years ago we remodeled our kitchen and in the process, decided that it didn’t make sense to keep such lovely dinnerware hidden away. Since it serves 12 and there’s just the two of us (once in a great while we might have a couple of friends over for dinner), we left half in the attic and brought the other half to our kitchen to enjoy. We haven’t broken any dishes yet (but at least one is chipped). The colors are fading though because we do put them in the dishwasher. Still, since we have 6 more servings, most of the dinnerware will probably outlive us 😉

  13. I’ve heard that it’s got a bit milder now in Texas? Over here we had news items about the way everyone pulled together to rescue those turtles from the cold ❤️

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