I remember a tale I heard years ago that has really stuck with me. It was about a two friends clearing away the possessions of an elderly mother who had just recently passed away and they came across all these dusty unused scented candles, where the scent had long since faded. One friend explained that her mother was saving them for a special occasion to use them. Sadly an occasion that special hadn’t come about.

The friend thought about it a lot and went home and prepared dinner as usual for her family, except she got out her candles and her fine china and laid the table, because she realised every day was a special occasion.

My nana was the same with her silver cutlery and my mother can barely remember it ever being used. Now I have my own set of ‘good cutlery’ and it sits in a wooden box and comes out for birthdays, Christmas and dinner parties.

I really should use it more, however in the busyness of life it is so easy to come home, tired and frazzled and reach for a can opener and make an easy meal, giving little thought to the utensils, crockery and even to a certain extent, the food we are serving on them. But whether we are busy or not life is still passing us by at the same pace, and if we allow it, opportunities to create special moments pass us by.

Making meal times a celebration can be a great punctuation to the day. A pause, an oasis of calm. It can start with honouring the food we use to nourish our bodies. If we take the time to grow it ourselves, be it a full scale garden laden with enough produce to get through the winter, or a pot of basil on a windowsill, then when we add it to our meals, we are acknowledging something special. I grew it and now I will serve it to my family with love. I know it is fresh, because it was in the garden less than an hour ago and they will know it is fresh, because it will be crisp and flavourful.

If the food is something you have carefully nurtured for months, then you will want to give it special treatment in the kitchen and create a feast worthy of your efforts. We have a rule in our family – “something from the garden in every meal.” And knowing that each meal contains home grown ingredients lets everyone know that they are being served something extraordinary.

And if they are being served extraordinary food, then it only makes sense to serve it on the finest china, and eat it with the best cutlery. And while we are at it, let’s get out those candles and the lovely table cloth – so what if someone spills their juice. It can be washed. If a plate gets chipped or broken, well it was only a plate. But a plate that was being used – used to celebrate the passing of time in the day in a life of a growing family. A far greater purpose than sitting in a cupboard collecting dust.

Each and every day is special and something in it can be found to give cause for celebration – even if it is just “phew, we made it!” So tonight, as you are preparing dinner, don’t just feed your family, serve them in a way that lets them know they are worthy of the good stuff.

Use the good stuff! Kids grow so quickly, and in the blink of an eye they are gone and you may find yourself with the silver on the top shelf and the candles collecting dust while waiting for an occasion special enough. You really don’t want to look back and realise you missed most of them while you were waiting.

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Sarah O’Neil lives on a small 3 acre lifestyle block. The family moved from the big city to the country in 2007. Sarah has published 3 books, including The Good Life, four glorious seasons in my country garden. She's also an award-winning blogger, winning a Yates Vegie Growing Challenge and still writes regularly. Visit Sarah’s website at sarahthegardener.co.nz.

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Gosh this is so true! Love this article – will definately use the good stuff more often!

Rochelle Gribble

Great article, eh?? We try and use our ‘good’ dinner set often… it feels so nice to actually use it 🙂

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