Monday, March 28, 2011

Saving The Best For... Tuesday

How ironic that when you don't have a lot of money to spend on food... what's left in the pantry are all the things that were "too good" to eat on an ordinary day. Fancy goods and foodstuffs that were gifts or splurges. Extravagances awaiting their perfect special occasions in order to be remembered, consumed, relished and appreciated fully.

Now, on a plain old regular Tuesday you find yourself eating your plain old regular toast with expensive gourmet preserves from a country you've longed to visit, and swirl local, small batch varietal honey into your strong Irish tea (bought for you in the Emerald Isle by a friend). For dinner, toss your 69-cent pound of pasta with expensive estate olive oil and the kalamata olives that you were saving for company. Would you like wine with that? You've got a few really nice bottles. Maybe there's a nice steak hiding in the back of the freezer. What are you waiting for? I say, go ahead and make today the special occasion.

Something old, something new, something dusty and never used
At an antique fair a few years back, we spoke to a vendor who had a large selection of beautiful vintage aprons and table linens. We commented on their excellent condition and she told us that the majority of them were never used. They had been "saved for special" and thus were never sullied or soiled. Some, she said, were still in their original packaging. Special occasions surely had come up in their owner's lives at some point...
  • Did these women just forget that they had these special aprons and linens set aside?
  • Did they think that they didn't deserve to use something so nice?
  • Were they afraid to ruin them through use, and thus sought to preserve them?
  • If so, preserve them for what? For when?
Do or do not...there is no why
Why do we do this? Do we treat ourselves cheaply because to act otherwise would paint us as selfish or spendthrifts? Possibly, but isn't it ironic that "Because I'm worth it!" has been the battle-cry of our society and its debt-is-O.K. mentality for so long now. How does this saving-for-special idea fit in with that attitude? Where does it come from? Is it a leftover from an earlier generation? More importantly though... how does one reconcile the two mentalities? Or should I say, overcome.

To give yourself the best is different than giving yourself the best you can afford. But the latter smacks of self-denial (something most people don't like to hear), as well as restraint, moderation, and delayed gratification. Of course, if you delay that gratification too long, you just may find that the moths or molds have gotten to whatever it was, and now nobody can enjoy it, be they honored guest or just you on any old Tuesday.

So, are you worth the expensive specialty foods (or linens)? Yes, yes you are. Do you deserve them? Yes you do. Should you buy them even if it means putting them on your credit card and paying them off at up to 24.99% interest? Um, heck no. I don't care how low your interest rate actually is.... the answer is the same. However, buying a special treat now and then, within budget, is totally o.k. In fact, it's good for your morale. But here's the hitch... you have to use it, eat it, consume it. Don't save it. Enjoy it now.

"Tout, baby! Toot sweet!"
In the movie Last Holiday, the main character Georgia Byrd lives a life of saving and self-denial. She loves to cook gourmet dinners but instead of enjoying what she's created, she photographs the plate and gives the delish dish to a neighbor to eat while she microwaves a frozen diet thing from a box. Later when she's trying to digest the news that she only has a short time to live, she looks back over all the photos of amazing meals she's created and sobs, "...I shoulda ate that. I shoulda ate all that stuff. Especially that!"

We can't go back and do it over. So do it now. Don't be foolish about it and blow your wad, but enjoy some special things as you go along. What are you waiting for? That bottle of champagne in the fridge... have it with left-overs, or popcorn, or Chinese take-out. Have it because it's Tuesday. Have it and enjoy the heck out of it.

Plan for tomorrow... live today... and pay with cash
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  1. Hi Sharkbait — And can I get a Hallelujah? I was on a bit of a soapbox there, but sometimes when I feel passionately about something, there's just no shutting me up! :)


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