When my husband and I moved to a new house a few months ago, we decided to move the couches that had been in our living room into the basement and splurge on some new furniture. When our toddlers were newborns, we practically lived on those couches, as evidenced by the worn cushions from all of the double 3 a.m. feedings and the stains from many a rejected bottle.
“We should take a picture of them while they’re still clean,” I said to my husband. We knew it was only a matter of time before the new furniture acquires that weathered look (i.e., apple juice spills, grounded up Cheerios).
“Too bad it’s not the 60s or we could cover it in plastic!” we joked.
Most of you know exactly what I’m talking about. Maybe it was a parent, grandparent, or other relative who practiced the art of furniture covering. A few years ago, there was an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond in which Marie Barone is finally convinced to remove the cover from her treasured couch. When she made the announcement, her older son Robert asked, “But where are we going to sit?”
Sure enough, as soon as her family sat on the couch and began to snack on chips — without a cover, gasp! — Marie immediately regretted the decision.
Although the idea of draping a couch in clear plastic probably seems bizarre to younger generations, decades ago it was as common as drinking coffee. In one regard, I suppose it makes sense. After spending a large chunk of change on a couch, the last thing you want is to see it get ruined.
But here’s the thing: it’s a couch. It was created to provide comfort. To put something on it that no longer makes it comfortable is counterintuitive — ridiculous, if you ask me. I feel the same way about fine china. I never registered for china when Dan and I were engaged, and sure enough, we were given bins full of delicate plates and cups that had been barely used by previous generations (and are now sitting in a storage unit).
Think about it; you’re given a set of fragile plates that aren’t meant for everyday use — and certainly can’t go in a dishwasher. Not exactly what I look for in a plate.
In both of those examples, objects that are meant to be functional become purely ornamental. And sure, the couch will last longer (and won’t be covered in spit-up) and the china will hold up for generations, but in the meantime, no one gets to enjoy them.
It’s the old age of “save it for a rainy day” that I, for one, would like to see go the way of the plastic couch. And it isn’t just the older generation that’s guilty of this. I can’t tell you how many people I know who lose weeks of vacation because they didn’t use them; they were saving them. For what?
I’ve been feeling a little more reflective these days, and I’ve concluded that there are too many things we all take for granted: our health, our jobs, even our family and friends. Life is just too short for that. As someone who has recently had to learn that the hard way, I urge you to stop saving everything for a rainy day. Use your vacation time — and enjoy it. Use the good china, even if you’re eating pizza. Make a list of things you want to do (if you haven’t already), and do at least one of them.
Make today a rainy day.