I buy lots of cranberries every November and December, stashing them in the freezer to use throughout the year. Then I get to next year’s Thanksgiving and the cranberries are still there. I didn’t use them because I was afraid I’d run out before I could buy more. It’s the mentality of scarcity.
Perhaps it’s my version of hoarding. Holding on and holding on and then holding on some more. I don’t do it with everything — just cranberries. And gourmet treats from my travels. And my mother’s crystal. And my antique tea cups. And my boxes of leftover yarn.
Frozen cranberries are my reminder of how I save things for special occasions, which never seem to come — or at least they’re not quite special enough.
This year has been different.
- The cranberries are gone by early October. Gone!!
- One of mother’s crystal goblets broke. Not because I was using it, but because it fell over in the cabinet — all by itself. Somehow, now that the set is less than perfect, it’s easier to use them for any occasion.
- My borrowed children, ages 4 – 10, came for Easter tea and we used the antique cups. No one has ever enjoyed those cups more than these children. Even if one had broken, we had a wonderful time savoring tea in special cups.
The first time of anything is often the hardest: the first time I run out of cranberries before more are available in the market, the first time an antique glass breaks, the first time I allow little ones to use the cups I’ve cherished my entire life, the first time I throw away part of my leftover yarn. The truth is I almost never find anything in that box I can use.
Our holding on causes us to miss the joy: the joy of cranberries in summer, the joy of using mother’s wedding crystal, the joy of children at their first tea party, the joy of extra closet space when I rid it of useless stuff.
Is there an unwritten rule that says we have to save things for special occasions? Or that we have to store things in case we might need them one day? Or because there’ll be no more if we use it up?
Or is it the tape of our mother’s voice, playing in our head — a mother who lived through the Depression, or suffered in hard times, or who talked of saving for a rainy day, or who never had enough when she was young. Such voices are difficult to silence.
But we can step beyond the voice that has bound us. We can say, “Yes, I am worthy of the best — even on this very ordinary day.” I can celebrate my very ordinariness with cranberries in July, tea in my best cup, champagne in my finest crystal. I can have a party in the middle of my work.
Treat yourself to joy. Don’t delay.
There’s plenty more for tomorrow — and the day after and the day after that.
Until next Tuesday . . .