Yesterday I referred to the “too” stuff taking up space in our homes. My prime example of what could be a “too” item in this house is my mother’s Madame Alexander dolls. Previously, they lived in a cedar chest in my grandmother’s house, and once or twice a month I would ask to play with them, and they would come out of hiding and be played with. Antiques even when I used them, my grandmother would make clothes and I would play—carefully—before they would eventually get put back away, nestled among the quilts and other items stored away in the chest. When it came time to sort the dolls, I was thrilled to be able to take some; they had such happy memories for me of Saturdays at Grandma’s house.
Admittedly, a few were worse for wear from excessive love, so I took the worst of the lot into a doll hospital to have repaired. (As an aside, isn’t it amazing that such a place even exists? How unbelievably, abundantly, materially blessed are we, that we have people running “doll hospitals!”) I still remember picking them up, once the work was done, and commenting to the owner of the shop that I looked forward to seeing my (soon-to-be-born) daughter playing with them as I had.
She was horrified. “Oh, no!” she exclaimed. “These are not to be played with!”
I didn’t fight her. But I wondered, if they were never played with, how on earth would my daughter develop an appreciation and an enjoyment of them? If she never had any happy memories of playing with her grandmother’s dolls, why would she have any interest in owning them later? I suppose an argument could be made for that: I’d be simplifying her life if she didn’t have these dolls to take care of. As it is, though, they live in a drawer in her bedroom, and yes, she does play with them, carefully, on occasion. Don’t tell the owner of the doll hospital.
It’s the same reason I sometimes use my grandmother’s cranberry glassware, or her deep green parfait glasses, or her tablecloths, or any of the other items I elected to keep. I use them, think of her, and smile; and in the process, we are making memories for my children, using these things. (My daughter adores “the beautiful dishes.”) I can’t think of an item in this house that is “too special” to use. I have lots of items in this home that are becoming more special, through use.