Why save the good stuff for later?

By Carol Zernial
WellMed Charitable Foundation Executive Director

I’m always saving the good stuff. I was recently visiting a family member, and I noticed that they hadn’t opened the jar of special Maine blueberry jam I had given them two years ago. I then came home and noticed that we hadn’t opened our jar either. Does this sound familiar?

Why do we save the good china for special occasions? Is that bottle of champagne still sitting at the back of the fridge waiting for a celebration? Do we ever sit on the good couch without the dog blanket?

The author and motivational speaker Leo Buscaglia used to talk about how he came home after his father had lost his business. His mother had put out the good china and spent the remaining money on a really wonderful meal. He was shocked. How could they afford it? She said that now was the time they needed a celebration.

As caregivers, do we ever treat ourselves? When things seem to be at their very worst, do we ever break out the good china and order the best take out we can afford, even if it’s a pizza?

Waiting for better times, for something good to happen, or until we feel better can be a long wait. Sometimes, we wait too long — the blueberry jam has gotten too old and lost the flavor that would have made it a special treat.

I struggle with this one. I’m afraid of using the good stuff. What if it runs out? Or what if I never get any good stuff to replace it? Worst of all, what if that is the last of the good stuff forever? The “what ifs” loom larger than reality, and I miss out on some things that could have been special if I hadn’t waited too long.

This year, let’s pledge to give away the best Halloween candy instead of finding it still in the dish at Christmas time. Let’s not put life or the opportunity for joy on hold while waiting for the right moment. We can’t let life pass us by or tick down the clock while we’re waiting for things to get better.

Enjoying that rare special treat really does make us feel special. Using the good stuff creates space in our lives for more good things to come our way. Using the good stuff can be spontaneous, or it can be planned as something we look forward to – a special occasion of our own making.

The good stuff — we’re worth it.

WellMed Charitable Foundation Executive Director Carol Zernial is a noted gerontologist, radio show host, and Chair of the National Council on Aging. The non-profit WellMed Charitable Foundation focuses on complimentary programs impacting seniors and family caregivers, including weekly telephone learning sessions, evidence-based classes on stress reduction and more. Find out more at CaregiverSOS.org or toll-free at 1-866- 390-6491