This boomer is saving the best for last!

Need a new gift idea for those you love? As Mary Kay Jordan Fleming writes from Crescent Springs, Kentucky, if you’ve got the same idiosyncrasy that she has, the idea’s right there in your closets and cabinets!

At a home-decorating party some years ago, our host asked everyone if we burned candles or merely dusted them, and I blurted out, “Why would I set my decorations on fire?” It made me wonder, am I the only one who saves good stuff instead of using it? Crystal vases, new pillows, Mom’s china— they’re all tucked away for some future occasion that never materializes.

My siblings and I were raised by Depression-era parents in a small house with three rooms on the first floor. We ate in the kitchen, played in the middle room, and treated the living room like a museum. Thankfully, our parents didn’t cover the couch in plastic but we wouldn’t have noticed if they had. No one sat on the good furniture except on Christmas morning.

Mary Kay

All our lives, both my sister and I have hidden the best bath towels from our families. Meantime, we dry ourselves with a piece of threadbare fabric that long ago stopped being a towel and started being a rag… and not even a good rag. Sure, we have fabulous fluffy towels, but we preserve them in case the Queen of England or the Pope stops by to bathe.

At the rate I’m going, I’ll arrive at the Great Beyond never having used the silver deviled-egg tray I placed on our wedding registry. Expensive bed linens remain in their box, my husband (who I infected with this idiosyncrasy) saves new socks and continues wearing holey ones, and I’ve held back my dressiest shirts for so long, I retired without ever wearing them. No doubt, Hubby will select one for my funeral so friends can stroll past and admire it. Instead of the usual chatter about how “realistic” I look, they’ll say I’ve never looked so good and by the way, why is there a price tag on my jacket?

Mary Kay’s husband Don.

Saving stuff often backfires. One of my male friends saved a pair of wool pants long enough for moths to belly up to the buffet. His spouse rationed a box of chocolate-covered red cherries until they turned green.

In 1997, my brother squirreled away “really good steaks” for just the right guest. The steaks maintained their hopeful vigil until the freezer burned them beyond recognition. Once when my sister and I made a long flight to visit him, she packed new silk pajamas she had been saving for many years. On her way out of the bathroom while we were visiting, the brittle elastic waistband gave way and she debuted a lot more than silk pajamas.

2020 has been a brutal year. With the coronavirus running amok and no entertaining in sight, let’s stop martyring ourselves and live a little. This Christmas, instead of buying gifts, I propose we give each other all the goodies we’ve stashed away. My husband loves deviled eggs. So I know exactly what I’ll give him. Happy holidays!


  1. This is very funny and so relatable, Mary Kay. When my mother passed I found several items I’d given her unworn and unused. I took one flannel lined nightgown home but never had the heart to wear it. I gave it charity. I hope it’s keeping someone warm.

  2. Mary Kay…you speak the truth about so many items I have tucked away for special occasions. I’m going to take your advise and enjoy them NOW!! Thanks for the perfect advise and holiday wishes.

  3. Mary Kay, the truth! But I have a solution for you. Move. Far away. You will discover things you’d long-ago forgotten. In the meantime, stop waiting and enjoy.

  4. Mary Kay,
    Your essay is so much fun and relatable. I remember saving, saving Honey from France from a trip for so long it was too hard to use or get and had to be thrown out. There are countless other items, and I particularly liked the “silk pajamas” as we women are always saving our best wear for the future. Bravo!

  5. So funny! I don’t have that problem, at least I don’t think I do. Will have to clean out the closet and see what’s there.
    Thea Schiller just needed to heat up that honey — honey can last for millenia.

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