We have a somewhat new tradition in our house. It started last year and it will continue for years to come. On Christmas Eve, while everyone else is flitting about with family and massive cooking efforts and travel and preparing for what is a Very Big Holiday, we order pizza, grab some wine and have what has come to be known in this house as a “Pizza Picnic” in front of the fire.
Ants are not invited, nor are paper plates and plasticware. For this quiet event, we pull out the big guns. It’s all china, crystal and silver – and it’s a lesson.
The kids are old enough now to learn what makes these things special, to hear about generations of commitment to craftsmanship and artistry – and to learn about the painstaking process to create these things.
Sitting in front of the fire they learned how you can see your hand through bone china – how there is a delicacy and strength in it. They can see the difference in luster between our everyday stainless and the sterling flatware they use tonight. They can hear the bell-like clink crystal makes in comparison to our glass wineglasses. They can feel the weight of Ireland in their hands.
And while they search for the tiny roses on the silver they learned it was the pattern I grew up with on the table for special occasions. They realized it was a special occasion.
But the larger lesson is that these things are made to be used. Anything can be a special occasion. That keeping these things locked up in banks and drawers and boxes makes them “precious”, but untouchable. I never want that.
You see, these beautiful things will never become part of their story if I don’t pull them out for special occasions – be it a spectacular dinner party or pizza in front of the fire. One day all of these things will be theirs. All I want is that they first remember the moments we used them, and the beauty of them second. Knowing which fork to use when is a total bonus.
So, this year, use things. Use the good dishes and drink the good wine and wear the good jewelry and choose stories over preciousness. Make pizza exceptional and when your kids get sick serve them juice in a magic crystal goblet.
Because the value’s not in the material; the value is in the moment.