Not keeping things 'for best'
When I was in secondary school, a friend bought me a candle as a present. It was a shaped candle (possibly a rabbit) and I didn't want to burn it as I didn't want it to be deformed. So I left it on my windowsill.
It melted in the sun.
This has really stuck with me. I kept something in its packaging as I didn't want to use it and ruin it, but by doing so, I ruined it anyway, without the enjoyment of burning it (although now I don't actually like candles and have no idea why someone wants fire in their house. But I digress). From that point on, I decided I was going to use things.
I had a favourite pair of silver hoop earrings - they were from Claire's Accessories (so probably weren't silver at all) but were really light, a great size, and I wore them all the time. One evening I went to the theatre with mum and when I got there I realised I was resembling a pirate as I'd lost one hoop earring between the car and the theatre, I was a bit annoyed, they were one of my most-worn pairs and the replacements I bought simply weren't the same, but I'd worn those earrings a lot and definitely got my money's worth from them.
For my (first) graduation, Dad bought me a pair of earrings. I chose them myself and loved them. That autumn, I went travelling round South America and took these earrings with me. One of the friends I was going with asked me why I was taking something that had sentimental value - I replied because I liked them, and I wanted to wear them.
I lost them. Well, I lost one. In a supermarket in Cuenca, in Ecuador. We searched all over the shop for it but couldn't find it. I tried to get a replacement when I got back, but the independent jeweller no longer had them. I then thought about getting the remaining earring turned into a pendant, but that earring got lost too before I could find a suitable chain. I was sad that I lost (another of) my favourite earrings, but they'd been on an adventure with me and I'd worn them a lot.
Every day I use my favourite mugs. I have a duvet cover from my childhood I still use. I cook with Le Creuset items, I have a strip of photo booth photos of my Granddad on the mantelpiece where it is frequently blown off by a gust of wind through the balcony doors. I have a handmade blanket on the sofa which is looking a bit worse for wear, I drink the expensive gin and I drink it from the Christmas wine glasses inherited from my grandmother. I have a few favourite tea towels (yes, really) that are now a bit stained from when a couple of Guides on camp dried a pot which had been on the fire, without properly cleaning it first.
I will be sad if my duvet cover gets a hole in, I'll be very sad if I lose the photos, the blanket could probably be mended (or I could make another one) and I'll be annoyed if I break the glasses (especially as there are only two left, unless my mum has more squirreled away somewhere). The tea towels are hardly pristine, but the camp made good memories.
But where would these things be if I didn't use them? The duvet cover would probably be in the loft at my mum's house, the photos would be in a drawer to protect them, the mugs would be languishing in a cupboard, the Le Creuset would be gathering dust, the blanket would be unused and probably in a box somewhere, the gin would be rejected for the not-as-nice-but-cheaper option, the wine glasses would be at the back of a cupboard.
Instead, they're being used regularly (depending on how much gin I drink!) and they're seen regularly - I see the photos of my Granddad every day, I have excellent memories of using the Christmas wine glasses as a child (without wine, I hasten to add).
Whenever I make an item for someone, I always include a care label, and on it I'll say that this item is meant to be used - I want blankets to be used, washed, slept in, slept on, slept under, washed, used as a picnic blanket, thrown around, used. I did not spend time and money to make something that is going to live in a bag.
I'm trying to be more minimalist in my approach to possessions (if you could see our flat, you would realise this is a long process) and therefore I want to use the things I buy (and am given). Some things I admit I don't use very often (things like dresses to wear for weddings, the vintage Pyrex that would hold enough food to feed about a dozen people) but I'm pretty sure I don't own anything that I wouldn't use. If I wouldn't use it, why do I own it?
I don't want to move house one day and find that the Christmas wine glasses have got a crack in yet I haven't used them for years. Why use the boring multipack tea towels when I could be using the funny ones friends have bought for me? Yes, my favourite tea towel did cost nearly £10, which is a lot for a tea towel, but work it out as cost per use, and really it's cheaper than the 3-for-£1 multipack ones!
So I'm always a bit curious when I see people using things 'for best' - if something brings you that much enjoyment, why not use it more often?
How about you? Are you a saving things for best person, or do you constantly use the items you love?