Tonight I bought a bunch of real dishes – a complete, matching set. Two of them, actually, to service my fleet of children and guests before they are scared away by my fleet of children.
Also purchased was a set of silverware that wasn’t in the restaurant supply section, bath towels that weren’t the $1.88 apiece variety and I shopped – yes, actually compared – various kitchen appliances.
Until about two years ago, I always considered purchases like these as frivolous and stupid. Why spend 50 dollars are solid forks, spoons and knives that don’t bend if they get caught in the silverware drawer when the restaurant supply store sells the flimsy stuff business owners expect people to steal and throw away for 50 cents apiece? What’s wrong with the mismatched set of hand-me-down plates incorporated with the obnoxiously blue dishes I bought on sale at Big Lots six years ago? And towels? Don’t even get me started on the racket these things are. You use them to dry yourself … why should I care if they have holes, bleach spots and are threadbare?
As mentioned in an earlier post, we move into a bigger, better house next week. And I’m suddenly domesticated. I suddenly want to have nice things to go with the oak kitchen table and chairs I bought and refinished. The kids will have their own bathroom … they need their own colored towels so Hollie and I can keep ours to ourselves. Suddenly, these “frivolous” things matter to me.
Part of this is the sense of home I aim to create. Sadly, when I was a single parent to Kalista, it never occurred to me the mismatched sets that kept breaking and being replaced by other cheap crap may be stifling my daughter’s sense of “home.” Nothing was constant – there was nothing she could hold 10 years later and think, “I remember eating off of this when I was 6.”
This occurred to me a week ago when I saw a set of Corelle plates in Walmart. As I picked one up on display, childhood memories came back … my family ate off of plates the same weight, shape and had the same high-pitched sound when you scraped them with your fingernail.
Some of the silverware we use today was high-quality stuff inherited from my late grandmother. It was around when I was 4 and we’d visit her in Ohio. To this day, I remember using it to eat Marty’s Mush and cereal from the individual boxes only she bought for home.
Towels have their own memories, I’ve grown to realize. They are a comfort on a cold day in winter. They embrace you after a shower following a long day at school or work. They swaddle your baby; they dry him years later after a youth football game. They are bedding for the family dog toward the end of their lives. You may not realize it, but towels are associated with some of the most soothing moments we will ever have. The pricey ones that last that long, anyway.
I owe a lot of this change of heart – this domestication – to Hollie. She doesn’t burst with femininity like a shiny debutante, but she’s helped me see the importance of things around the home that last. Our family is fortunate that my job affords us the means to buy these things, but I am fortunate that she has encouraged me to make such purchases.
No, this is not her “spending my money.” I’m onboard with this stuff; I agree with it. As long as it is good for the family and doesn’t affect my ability to purchase NFL Sunday Ticket this season, spend away. It is a good investment.
It is necessary for parents to be fiscally responsible, but it’s important they create rich experiences and memories for their children, among other things. Few things remind a child of childhood more effectively than a common household item they hold in their hands as a child and as an adult.
Creating that experience for my children someday is worth every penny.