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How many times has a friend or family member said, “Oh, I’ll save that for a special occasion.”
“That” might be the good china or an expensive shirt or a family heirloom or even a gift from a loved one. Saving something for a special occasion imbues that item with greater value, it seems. It’s not meant for everyday or regular use. Rather, a special occasion worthy of the item must occur first.
Greg’s dad frequently recited the “saving it” clause. He chose to wear the same shirts and trousers over and over and tucked away new items, meant to replace their worn out counterparts.
After his death, I uncovered stacks of unopened gifts and clothes still in their original packages.
What if, instead of saving the good stuff, we gave ourselves permission to enjoy treasures now?
Enjoy Treasures Now
I get it. I’ve tucked heirlooms and vintage items away too. The fear of breaking or wearing out something often overrides the joy that the item brings.
That changed for me a few years ago, as I kept “rediscovering” pieces I’d put away. I asked myself, “What good do packed away treasures do? What joy do they bring?” Overcoming fear of loss, I pulled those pieces out of storage and began incorporating them into my everyday life and décor. I’m not sorry!
The first vintage item that I hauled out of the attic…and repurposed. This is my grandfather’s WWII Army trunk, enjoying a second life as a vignette holder.
I am more relaxed now with my treasures, allowing them second lives or renewed purpose in my home. From my experience, I offer 5 reasons to enjoy treasures now…rather than keep them in storage.
Tucked Away Treasures Don’t Bring Joy
This is a Marie Kondo teaching. A champion organizer, Marie loves to tidy up. One of her guiding principles involves holding an object to see if it sparks joy. If it does, keep it and if it doesn’t, give it away, sell it or throw it away.
If a treasure is tucked away, how do we know if it brings joy? In fact, thinking of the old adage, “Out of sight, out of mind”, how do we even know what we have?
This thought led me to uncover all my treasures, several years ago, and find ways to use them again. Otherwise, I kept forgetting what I had, until I came across it again.
I began with my grandfather’s trunk and kept going, one or two items at a time. These pieces bring me great joy. And it’s not just vintage pieces that I am now using. I have comfy shirts, fun socks, favorite pens and dinnerware that I regularly use, simply because I enjoy them.
The fear of wearing something out is as great as the fear of loss. However, never wearing my single pair of bright yellow plaid socks is not only a shame, but a waste. I bought them because they spark joy and make me smile. I may wear them out. However, what joy do they bring, folded in a drawer? None!
Wearing the greatest socks ever!
Treasures Tell Stories
This is one of my favorite reasons for keeping my treasures around me. With vintage items, there is the fear of breakage. Packing an item away appears to keep it safe. I know first hand that is not always the case.
My neighborhood lay in the path of the 2011 EF5 tornado that devastated Joplin. I lost a vintage globed table lamp that fell casualty to debris bursting through a window. All in all, my house fared better than most around me. Half a block away, uprooted houses rested in the middle of the street or resembled nothing more than a pile of rubble. Safekeeping treasures did nothing to protect them in that storm.
The experience renewed my determination to enjoy treasures now, because I don’t know what tomorrow brings. Scattered throughout my home, these old pieces whisper their stories to me, every time I glance at them.
My mother’s wooden shoes, from her childhood, tell a story of love. My father’s Harley Davidson woven throw recounts his courageous battle against cancer. Grandpa Moore’s 119 year old china doll reminds me that he cherished that special toy, as a small boy. Leta Moore’s vintage curling irons speak of her connection with her mother, as a young girl.
I want these stories told. I want to hear them. Tucked away in closets and drawers, the stories become muffled and eventually lost to me.
Bill Moore’s china doll, happily gracing my dining table.
Repurpose Treasures in Fresh Ways
This fun way of displaying treasures brings enjoyment and a sense of satisfaction. Inspired by using Pop’s trunk to hold quilts or holiday décor, I turned many pieces into vignette holders. The vintage suitcase, Aunt Roxie’s old footstool, Aunt Annie’s red box and an old wooden sieve (pictured above holding the china doll) all serve now as backdrops for arrangements containing other keepsakes.
My backyard garden features old rusty buckets and big metal washtubs that hold colorful flowers and aromatic herbs during the summer. An old red toolbox protects succulents and an old wheelbarrow transforms into a fairy garden while vintage minnow buckets allow candlelight to spill out into the twilight.
Bringing new life to an old, worn out item, extends the usefulness of that piece. Decorating with and using these pieces in fresh ways sparks joy, yes, and also ramps up my creativity. Study a treasure that no longer works well in its original form or purpose, and let it speak to you.
I set out an item and look at it multiple times the day until I get a creative idea or a visual download that guides me in repurposing it. Pinterest provides amazing ideas as well.
Every treasure in this vintage suitcase, repurposed to hold vignettes, tells a story.
Not all treasure are beyond their intended purpose. These items still serve in useful ways, once fear of loss is replaced with enjoyment.
Many of my vintage kitchen pieces came from the old shed in Grandma and Grandpa Moore’s backyard . Packed away because something new replaced them, I found delight in rescuing these treasures and bringing them home. That was 40 plus years ago…and I still use some of these items daily.
Concerns about wearing out those beauties proved futile.
Heavy glass pitchers hold lemon water or home made almond milk. The enamelware colander still cradles freshly washed veggies. My aunt’s glass juicer makes me smile when I twist half a lime on it. I decorate with old glassware, drink from vintage teacups and decorative bowls perfectly display fruit.
Do I fear breaking something that is irreplaceable? I think about that possibility and use care when washing an item or displaying it. I recently broke a treasure, unpacking it from a box. The 1940s cookie jar belonged to Greg’s parents. My heart sank as it slipped from its protective bubble wrap and hit the floor with a cracking sound. Fortunately, it broke into only two pieces. Repaired it can still serve as a container or simply grace a shelf. I am grateful.
However, if something breaks beyond repair, I’d rather know that the treasure brought me great joy while I used it instead of sitting forgotten in a closet. I can live with the risk. It’s helped me too to discover previous repairs in some of the treasures. They’ve been broken before! Somehow I feel better knowing that.
It’s a choice one must make. If losing an item breaks a heart, keep it safe. Or display it with care. For many years the china doll remained safely in a closet. Now, she delights me from various places around the house. She’s not for playing with. And I handle her carefully and mindfully. She’s too precious, however, to hide away.
This vintage glass pitcher gets used weekly.
The Next Generation May Have No Interest in Treasures
While not intended as a judgment, the truth is that children and grandchildren reaching adulthood may have no interest in family treasures. Carefully preserving heirlooms and keepsakes may come to naught, when the next generation doesn’t feel the same way about them.
I love the current trend among many young adults to live with less and travel more. Additionally, the tiny house movement and the minimalist lifestyle encourage a life lived with less stuff. There’s nothing wrong with those trends at all.
All it means is…don’t save treasures to hand down, when there may be no one willing to take them. Use those keepsakes, repurpose them, let them bring joy. And if a child or grandchild wants to keep that story alive, by owning the treasure, wonderful. And if no one wants those treasures, at least they were enjoyed for a time. Truly, that is enough.
Don’t Save Anything for a Special Occasion
Madeline Engelbreit says,
“Don’t ever save anything for a special occasion. Being alive is the special occasion.”
I love that quote! It’s at the heart of what I desire, with the treasures in my keeping. Don’t save them for a special occasion. Use them. Wear them. Repurpose them. Repair them if necessary…but don’t hide them away and forget about them.
Enjoy treasures now.
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