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Column: I’m Done Waiting for Special Occasions

Becky Munsterer

Becky Munsterer

Norwich

I’m running out of room in my freezer. The problem is the lobster ravioli. My freezer has been occupied by four packages of lobster ravioli for months. But, for whatever reason, I can’t seem to get myself to eat it.

Perhaps I can’t eat the frozen ravioli because it is from Trader Joe’s. (For an Upper Valley girl miles away from the nearest Trader Joe’s grocery store, anything from Trader Joe’s is considered rare and treasured.) Perhaps I can’t eat the frozen ravioli because it would require me to actually cook a meal, instead of just pouring a bowl of cereal.

But I’m pretty sure I’m not eating the ravioli because it is made with lobster ... so, in my mind, it is fancy. And therefore, I need to save it for a “special occasion.”

I save a lot of things for “special” occasions. In every room of my house, I seem to have at least a handful of items I’ve stashed away. Maybe I’ll use them on the day of my cousin’s wedding. Maybe I’ll use them when I finally get that book deal. Maybe I’ll use them when I throw that glamorous dinner party I saw in my Martha Stewart magazine.

But in the meantime, they just sit.

I’m certainly not a hoarder. (There is no greater joy than traveling to the Norwich transfer station on a Saturday morning.) And I’m proud to be a regular donor to the various charities around town. (I especially like giving winter jackets to those in need around the holiday season.) But I seem to have a problem when it comes to saving special items for occasions that never happen.

My bathroom is a shining example of this problem. It’s filled with two different shelves of supplies. One shelf is filled with my daily drugstore lotions, shampoos and soaps. The other shelf is filled with “special occasion” items, many of which are probably past their expiration dates. Instead of using the expensive-brand conditioner that my sister bought me last year, it sits, unopened, next to other special-occasion beauty products. Teeth whitening strips, sea salt infused soap, pricey wrinkle cream. They all just sit ... while my other run-of-the-mill drugstore items run empty.

I don’t know what I’m waiting for. I don’t know why I think the wrinkle cream will be more helpful to me when I have more wrinkles. (You would think that I would like to prevent them to begin with.) My closet is just as bad. I have a green cashmere sweater I have never worn. Simply uttering these words makes me feel unappreciative and wasteful. I’ve owned it for three years, and it still has a price tag attached. (Ironically, it was actually on sale and incredibly cheap.) Still, I have a fear of wearing that sweater on the “wrong” day. On the day I spill tea. On the day I have to babysit my sticky-fingered nephew. On the day the weather turns warm and I get the sweater sweaty. So, instead, it sits folded in my closet, while I wear everything else around it.

The irony of my predicament is that when special occasions come around, I’m usually given other special things to use. I’m given bridesmaids dresses to wear at weddings. I’m loaned jewelry from my sister for fancy nights on the town. I’m gifted with Christmas dresses from my mother that I’m expecting to wear to the family New Year’s party. My special-occasion items never even get the chance to make their debut.

Recently, family and friends lost a lot of material things in Hurricane Sandy. In addition to the emotional turmoil, people lost homes, cars, boats, photographs, heirlooms and antiques. But I never heard anyone complain about losing their lobster ravioli. Or their expensive wrinkle cream. Or their green cashmere sweater.

This holiday season, the season of giving can quickly become the season of wanting. People seem to always want more stuff. But if we use what we have, we will be able to reduce our consumption without sacrifice.

So, this December, I vow to actually use the so-called special-occasion things I have. I will break open the lobster ravioli on a random Tuesday night to share with a deserving friend. I will indulge in a sea salt foot scrub after a day of babysitting my 3-year-old nephew. And I will wear the green cashmere sweater while donating blood to the Red Cross. If I can force myself to celebrate life’s daily special events, I will need less, and be able to give more.

For if there’s one thing I’ve learned this past year, it’s that life is too short to save anything for a special occasion. Every day is truly lobster-ravioli worthy.

Becky Munsterer. a Norwich resident, is the author of the recently published Mrs. Claus and The School of Christmas Spirit.