Sunday, February 27, 2011

Stuff about stuff

This morning Dancer and I needed to go to the early service at church, so she could be at an audition at noon. I made coffee, and then batter for blueberry pancakes. After flipping the pancakes I reached up into the cupboard to get the creamer we use to pour maple syrup. A pleasing thought passed through my mind: the creamer was part of our wedding china, and after almost 18 years of marriage it is still intact and still in use.

And then my hand closed around the creamer and I found that someone had broken the handle, and replaced the creamer without saying anything.

After I finished growling, and succeeded in tucking my pouty lip back where it belonged, I slid the pancakes onto a favorite plate. It, too, has been around 18 years, though I don't know where it came from. It is the one which has held pancakes every Sunday since forever, and it's probably supported every birthday cake I've ever baked. I like it very much. Secretly I wonder if my kids will argue over who gets to keep it when they're grown, but I haven't asked them and perhaps they don't care.

We don't have a whole lot of pretty things out and about for everyday use, for the very obvious reason that life with five kids involves a lot of breakage. I am sad when something I like breaks, but I'm also practical. It's stuff.

"People are more important than things" is one of the first lessons I teach my kids. Stuff is replaceable, but people are not. This week's lesson will be a repeat of one I've taught often in the past: when you've damaged something that belongs to someone else, you need to admit it freely and say you're sorry. And to the extent possible, you make restitution. Because even if it's just another broken thing, it's not yours. And it might mean more to someone else than it does to you.


  1. Bummer about the creamer. But, it's just stuff. I am less and less interested in stuff; it's starting to just feel like clutter.

    Come have lunch - you can get a new and indestructible creamer at Fishes Eddy.

  2. I'm with you on perceptions of stuff. The older I get the less I care. I had never had any feelings about that creamer UNTIL the very moment that I made the connection to my marriage. Which happened to coincide with the moment I discovered the handle was broken.

    Lunch... I'm there. Will call.

  3. We had that same china as our casual wedding china, and almost every piece broke! What's tough about moments like that is that something associated with beauty and "specialness" ends up a victim of the drudgery of daily life--the brokenness, if you will. The challenge is to keep up the faith and the joy even in the midst of messy everyday life. (I also have five children!)

  4. You bet! And though there's nothing wrong with taking joy in nice things, it *is* a mistake to assume that the nice things are the source of joy. Beyond that, the real work is finding joy in the midst of brokenness.