Why Aren’t You Good Enough for Your Good China?

Madame Chic Cover

The answer is, of course, that you are good enough for even the finest dinnerware, and yet we all keep that in reserve in the cupboard for the special occasions. And we don’t even question it.

In fact, I never questioned it until I got into Jennifer L. Scott’s “Lessons from Madame Chic.” The book includes a number of fascinating secrets to living life well that came to her as a result of living in Paris as a student. One of the things she notes is that the French family she stayed with used their best china even on an ordinary Tuesday – because the nightly family dinner was special enough to warrant the best. It was worth celebrating.

Ever since reading that I’ve become rather fixated on the concept. Even though I haven’t gone through the bridal registry process, I have a number of kitchen items that I rarely use – items that got pulled out for our first Thanksgiving in the new place, but hadn’t been used in roughly 17 years prior to that. Apparently, I was waiting for that particular event. Why aren’t the oranges always in the crystal bowl? It’s not like that thing is doing any good sitting on the shelf. I feel like we should declare ourselves good enough to always use that bowl.

I’m betting I’m not alone in the “put it away for something special” mindset. I have sheets that are still in the packaging that are at least 15 years old. Why? Because somewhere along the line I remember being told that any good hostess has a set of nice sheets saved for guests. I’m not saying the other sheets are tattered rags, but apparently I’m keeping the very best for people who might someday arrive (or might not). How about towels? Anyone have a set of guest towels that aren’t out in the spare bathroom, but are being secretly stashed in the linen closet on the chance that Martha Stewart stops by and needs a wash?

I think finances have played a certain role in these decisions. I won’t open even a moderately expensive bottle of wine mid-week for no reason. I’ll save that for a gift or for a special dinner and that’s because I can’t be certain that I’ll be able to afford to replace it. And yet, part of living well is celebrating even an ordinary Thursday night dinner with the boyfriend because I’m grateful to be there.

Banking on a special future event rather than living as well as I can afford now is a tricky prospect. The planner in me wants to be prepared while the pragmatist in me realizes that I don’t really know how many tomorrows there will be. I haven’t decided yet if that means I’ll be opening the Châteauneuf-du-Pape. But I am willing to say that I deserve those sheets.

How about you? Is part of living well for you declaring that you deserve to use your “good” towels? What are you saving for that potential special occasion?