I did something recently that I don’t think I’ve ever done before. For dinner one day last week, I fixed a meal that I usually prepare just two or three times a year, and only on a weekend when we’re celebrating a special occasion and have other family members or friends over. Except this time, I did it in the middle of the week, for no one but my husband and me, and for no particular reason – other than the fact that the pork chops were on sale.

The meal is a family favorite, and the recipe is one I got years ago from my mother-in-law, who got it from her mother-in-law years before that. Which reminds me that I’d better give it to my son’s fiancée one of these days in order to keep up the tradition.

The reason I usually fix it only on weekends is that it’s very time-consuming – it takes almost an hour of prep work, and then another hour in the oven. And I make it only for special occasions because some of the ingredients are a little expensive, especially the cut of pork chops that is the main ingredient. In fact, when I was at the grocery store and saw that they were on sale – at a price that made my mouth water – my first thought was, “Does anybody have a birthday coming up?” No one did, so I started thinking ahead to when the next family birthday or other special occasion would be, in order to decide if I should buy the pork chops and freeze them till then.

Finally, a novel and unexpected thought occurred to me. I could just buy the pork chops and fix them for dinner, for no particular reason, and with no special occasion in sight.

And that’s what I did. I still had to check my calendar for a day when I had no meetings, appointments, or other plans from late afternoon on. And when my husband had no evening commitments.

Two days later, we enjoyed a favorite, special-occasion dinner on a very ordinary Wednesday. With a bonus of enough leftovers for a few more meals.

The whole experience made me think of stories I see occasionally about elderly widowers cleaning out closets and dresser drawers  after their wives passed away, and finding gifts of jewelry, scarves, and fancy nightgowns still in their original boxes – never worn because they were “too good” for everyday use. And I thought about the late, great Erma Bombeck, whose reflection, “If I Had My Life to Live Over” included the fact that she “would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage,” and “would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.”

It’s wonderful to have practices and possessions that we use on special occasions. But we shouldn’t limit them to special occasions only. We should use them and enjoy them whenever we can. When we do, we may even find ourselves creating special occasions out of ordinary days and experiences.

And that’s something worth celebrating.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on October 1, 2015.
©Betty Liedtke, 2015

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