Friday, August 10, 2007

A tale of two soaps

This is a story about soap: soap that I bought eight years ago as a penniless new bride, fancy French milled soap marked 84-cents on a Target endcap.

We carried this soap 800 miles on a Florida road trip. I brought my budget bread-and-butter gifts for relatives along the way.

My husband's grandmother loved the soap. It sat on a decorative shelf in her bathroom for many years, but was never used. When she moved home to Georgia, she took the soap with her.
After her death, we helped empty the apartment. There was the soap, with its still-sweet scent and sweeter memories. I brought it home to my gift closet. Soon it was my mother's birthday...

We made her a special lunch, but I let the kids pack the soaps in a pink floral bag, a little favor to open from the grandchildren.

"Oh, these are too pretty for me!" Mom exclaimed, setting them back on my counter. "Why don't you save them for your Aunt Linda's Christmas? She has guests all the time, you know."

I've been looking at these soaps for a month now, reluctant to pass along an obvious white elephant. Tonight, I decided to enjoy them all to myself. Things this pretty deserve to be used, especially when they cost so little and traveled so far.

Perhaps I can answer our question about making soap last longer, after all.

15 comments:

Emma said...

What a great story, Meredith! Enjoy them!

Donna said...

Your mom's reaction was cute!

Carrie J said...

Why is it we women have such a hard time using our pretty things for ourselves? My grandmother used to have a drawer full of "good" gowns and dressing coats that she never wore but saved for when she needed them. We cleaned them out after she died.
I find myself doing that sometimes and have to remind myself that I'm worth pampering. Great post.

mama k said...

Great story.
I have a thing with nice journals. I buy them but am reluctant to blemish those never been written on pages.
A good reminder that "things" are made to be enjoyed in the here and now. No point saving them up if you never get a chance to use them.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you posted this, Meredith. This way of thinking is something that I don't get, at all. I personally think it's kind of sad to never use the pretty things we have in our own day to day lives. How we live on a daily basis becomes the culture of our homes that our children remember for the rest of their lives, and because of that, I think that we should have a passion to make our lives as beautiful and lovely as possible. When we cleaned out my mother-in-law's house after both she and my father-in-law had died, I could not BELIEVE all the stuff she had put away that she NEVER used. It took us FOREVER (and I am not kidding about that!) to get through the house, and in the end I felt sad and empty inside about how we "scattered to the wind" all this stuff she had saved for so many years...some to Goodwill, some to an auction, going home with people we'd never see again... We pack away or "save" all this stuff throughout our lives, only to leave it for someone else to go through after we are gone, or to be carted away to Goodwill. So....use the soap! Use the china dishes! Use the crystal!! Use every beautiful thing you can find, because life is over in a moment!
Susan

PS- I love the soaps, and they wouldn't have been white elephant gifts in my book. They're lovely!

nancyr said...

Susan's comment (above) really sums it up beautifully. It is sad that many of us think that something is "too pretty", or "too nice" for us.
We need to be reminded that we are worthy and deserve nice things in life.
It is sad, but true, that many lovely things that end up at Goodwill, were gifts lovingly chosen, or made for someone who felt that they didn't deserve them.

meredith said...

Thanks, Susan.

Things are just things, after all. They're not what matters, and I'm not sure we even "deserve" them. However, if we are lucky enough to have or receive nice things, we shouldn't be scared of using them right now.

Amy said...

That is a great story and I am so happy you were able to finally use the soap for yourself.

That also makes me sad, as I see this happening in a lot of people's homes. The "good China" the "good silver" the "good wine glasses." We don't have any good things in our house, everything is just meant to be used. If it breaks, well, at least we enjoyed it one day!

Julian said...

that is such a beautiful story. Thoes soaps were given away by you, but also saved for you. Funny how that turned out. Well, after all that catering, you deserve it. I agree with Amy about the good china and stuff. Use them today with family. They deserve our good stuff.
Blessings,
Christina

SongBirdy said...

My Grand mother and great Grandmother were like those mentioned. My mother was, but she had the experience of cleaning up after her mother.

In psychology they talk about how times of great need, especially experienced in childhood, are very evident through out your life. I think this is a perfect example. It is my theory that this behaviour can be passed along to the next generation too.

I'm glad your using the soap!

I would too. Which is why my Mother-in-law no longer gifts me things like that. The other day I mentioned that I wanted a candle like the 'Party-lite' candles. She said, "Why? You're just going to burn it!" LOL!

Anonymous said...

All of you wonderful ladies have the right idea. Things are made to be used and enjoyed. I love to make a glass of iced tea in a beautiful class that belonged to my grandmother. I use it and I think of her when I do. Now, my grandmother was a saint here on earth, but the flaw she had was not using her nice things but saving them for company. She drank her tea and water from an old mason jar. She was not 'good enough' to drink from her own good glass ware. Well, now her grand daughter drinks from her glasses every day and I think of her as I do. When she passed away there were 100's of things that my daddy just threw into the trash that belonged to her. I litterly had to pick through a pile in a ditch along with all the other (strangers) trash pickers to get something that belonged to my OWN grandmother. My dad thought I was crazy. Told me so in no unspoken words. I was crying and telling strangers to leave the things alone as they were my Grandma's and I wanted them...well, I finally gave up. These strangers were not going to leave the 'treasure trove' in the ditch and let me have it. I managed to get a few things, but it was sad. Very sad. I don't tell you these things to bring you down, but to build you up. Please use your things. Share them with your loved ones while you can. You never know when you will not see your loved ones again and the chance will be gone forever.
I think this blog is one of the best I have ever read. Thanks for the wonderful chance to share your joys. Roxie

Carrie J said...

Roxie, I just want to give you a big hug. I had some similiar experiences after my Grandmother died. So I understand how you feel. So consider yourself hugged.

Meredith said...

Roxie, blessyour heart. I'm glad you were able to rescue a few momentoes.

We had to buy a few of my grandmother's things at a yard sale from the aunt who inherited it all. She didn't give any family a chance to buy things before offering them to complete strangers. Lord only knows what ended up on Ebay. It is a very strange experience to walk into an antique shop and see something that belonged to your grandmother...not *like* your grandmother's, but actually your grandmother's.

Anonymous said...

On aN unrelated notE, do you know what happened to THE BLOG lIFE, oN A BUDGET. sHE HASN'T BEEN UPDATED IN TWO WEEKS?Y

Anonymous said...

Love your blog. Too funny!

marcia in TX