Every Day Of Your Life Is A Special Occasion

My grandparents lived a shrewd and careful life similar to so many others of their age; no doubt, borne out of meagre wartime rationing and a “make do and mend” ethos. Their generation was recycling long before the days of green dustbins and eco-friendly products. In fact, we still have shelves around the house that started life as a wardrobe door somewhere because my Dad, who inherited their philosophy, never throws anything away and is probably one stack of rubbish away from an episode of Hoarders. He converted our loft some time ago and together with his garden and allotment sheds manages to house all the “useful” items he has accumulated over the years; my mother always sleeps with one eye open waiting for it all to come crashing through the bedroom ceiling and crush them both to death.

Subsequently, I knew that when my beloved Grandma died I would need to help my Grandad sort through her things as she had an old blanket box that contained all her collected treasures. So one rainy winter’s afternoon we set about the task and as I opened the blanket box the aroma of lavender filled the air immediately evoking the images of summer days filled with butterflies and sunny flower beds. My Grandma used to sew all the lavender from her little garden into little gingham and broderie anglaise sachets and those she didn’t give to friends & family, were bundled into drawers and wardrobes to fragrance all her linens and clothes.

As I lifted the first layer of tissue paper, I hauled out all the boxes of memories containing photographs, a jewellery box containing broken brooches, a solitary hairclip, a seashell and belt buckle; nothing of any real monetary value but every bit as precious to my Grandma nevertheless and I couldn’t help but wonder what had made her keep them. Even though I had been close to her, I still felt like I was intruding upon a lifetime of her golden days rummaging through her belongings deciding which items to keep and which to send to the charity shop. There was an array of silk scarves which had always been her trademark wrapped around some gift boxes containing perfume that I had bought her for various birthdays and Christmas’s, still folded in to the original wrapping.

The disappointment must have been etched on my face as I realised that Grandma would never have worn any of my carefully chosen gifts and I said as much to Grandad suggesting that I would have exchanged them for something she would have preferred.
Smiling wistfully he took them gently from me and smoothed the creased wrapping paper lovingly with arthritic hands and said “Nay lass, you’ve got it all wrong, she liked them right well. In fact, she were so proud she used to show them to everyone she could”.

I still couldn’t understand why she didn’t use them and he told me quite simply they were the equivalent of her Sunday clothes which were only used for “church & best”. Neverthless, I felt sad that she had never used them and suddenly remembered all the beautiful gifts that I had packed away into drawers waiting for that special occasion.

The fact of the matter is every day is a Sunday moment and a blessing; as I breathe a sigh of irritation for some small minor nuisance someone somewhere is taking their last breath wishing that they too had another opportunity to wear that special dress, use that expensive perfume or polish those crystal glasses. So today I will be cooking the “olds” Sunday lunch on a table dressed with all my treasures and wearing my party best.

One of my "treasures" - my great grandparents

One of my “treasures” – my great grandparents

59 thoughts on “Every Day Of Your Life Is A Special Occasion

  1. A lesson shared, is a lesson well learned! I salute you for sharing your memories so that others may sit down and reshape their thoughts and plans to make every day a worthwhile memory

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  2. Ah, those hours of going through boxes. You can lose all sense of time and place. A shame that your gifts of perfume weren’t used but you must know how they were cherished. Don’t wear too much perfume at lunch, you might overwhelm them 😉

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  3. Oh my mother was the same Dallas! But I know she cherished those gifts, as I am sure your grandmother did. Thank you for the reminder, and have a great Sunday 🙂

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  4. I remember the ‘Sunday best’ syndrome when I was growing up. My mom kept a special nightie and slippers unworn, just in case she had to go into hospital. I agree that every day should be a celebration. 🙂 Hugs to your dad.

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  5. I’m sure that you are having a hearty time with your dear ones today – I personal have only memories from my grandparents on my mum’s side. Grow up with them – my grandpa I was very close to, but he died when I was 8 .. and my relationship with grandma after that … wasn’t the best.
    And now is it only me left of our family .. so I envy your Sunday a bit. *smile
    How is your dad doing ????? Will some great music from Sweden … after the New Year be good for him??? *smile

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      • Great News – you can tell him that Swedish Wallander is now finished, he has retired – he got Alzheimer, just like his dad.
        I think Sweden and Denmark does brilliant thrillers.
        So there will be some music after the New Year.
        I had a really bad week, that’s why I haven’t been active. Seeing the specialist in Malmö on Tuesday. I don’t know what I will do .. if he doesn’t send me home with some treatment that works. Otherwise, I’m just fine.

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  6. What a beautiful story, Dallas. My Mom too was like your Grandma, she kept things I brought her from around the world and I knew she wanted and loved, but were far too precious to her for use – but she loved showing them to her friends. What a lovely idea to give your family a special Sunday treat – hope your Dad and Mom will get better very soon. Carina 🙂

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  7. Ah I can smell the lavender. My father-in-law puts all his best presents in his sock drawer and we are just resigned to the fact that if we get him something good that’s where it will go, never to be used as it’s too good! I’m with you Dallas – all the “good” stuff at our place gets used all the time.

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  8. So thoughtfully expressed. An attitude I grew up with and know well. I’m getting better about using what I have in the here and now, enjoying it, and trusting that I will live another day with more good things coming my way. Still, the impulse to clutch treasures tightly to oneself is not an thing to cast off.

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  9. Dallas – this is your best post, ever! Brilliant – you captured the essence of what we hold dear. I know exactly why your grandma kept your gifts safe and untouched. I have earrings that my son gave me never worn, a scarf from my husband, never taken out of the wrapping, stationary from my mother, never written on. They represent special memories – my son picking out the perfect earrings. I can still see him as a 6 year old – every time I see those earrings I remember the exact time, and precise look on his face when he gave them to me. We connect “things” to symbols, whether it be love, joy, loss, or hope.
    Your grandma used those gifts more than you think. She is a kindred spirit!

    “Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.”
    ― L.M. Montgomery, The Story Girl

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      • They are indeed special. I have a problem losing “things.” Today, it was a glove. When I went to the market to buy vegetables. I got so excited when I saw tomatoes on sale that I forgot to put my gloves in my pocket. About an hour later, I noticed one missing. I’ve checked with the lost and found (they know me by now). So far – nothing. But I have not given up hope. If you see a tan glove – let me know, for I’m certain it will be mine! 🙂 🙂 🙂

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  10. This was beautifully written and so nostalgia evoking … incidentally my mother’s always telling me the same thing. There aren’t enough “special moments” in life to save the good things for; there aren’t enough guests to hide away all the pretty china for …. Besides, who deserves them more than you? The strangers don’t know the story behind every pretty thing you bought, found or were given; nobody will ever value them more than you do 🙂

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  11. Always a good day to reflect and count your blessings which can be more difficult then it seems. I know myself it’s often easier to gripe and complain which is ultimately counter productive.
    But so it goes with human nature.
    Good thoughts here though for sure.

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  12. Oh D! So good to have you back again and with such great advice. Sadly I was never one with enough patience to save anything for Sunday Best. Never any good at waiting for surprises or to open presents. Sounds like you’ve taken over the household! Pity the parents? 😉

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  13. Beautiful, Dallas 🙂 I love looking for the silver lining too.
    Sometimes I sort through “treasures” that I’ve kept and maybe even discard the odd one, but it’s hard to let go of memories.

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  14. Lovely post Dallas brings back fond memories of my old Mam. Unpicking old woollen cardigans and me holding the skeins while she rolled it into balls. Yes true recycling back then. Hope you all enjoyed your Sunday lunch. Was it a roast beef with all the trimmings?

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