Monday, January 04, 2010

In With the Old, Out with the New

Now is the time of year when everyone seems focused on renewal, improvement, and new stuff. And I have a couple of new things myself, but in two particular examples, they made me think about the value of keeping old things.

First, the butter dish. A couple of months ago, I bought a new butter dish for about $9 at Beth, Bath and Beyond. I had tossed it in a corner and kind of forgotten about it, which was probably the first sign that I didn't really need a new butter dish. I had thought about replacing my old plastic butter dish because it was starting to look a little scuffed up and old... because it IS old: I bought it in 1992 or 1993, when I was moving into my first apartment, and I've kept it with me through a few moves since then. When I moved in with a partner, it came with me, and when that relationship ended, it came with me. Now that's butter dish loyalty, isn't it!
Now I'm thinking I actually might keep using it, even though I've discovered the new butter dish-- I actually use two dishes, and my old one is used for margarine. The real butter is in a glass dish I bought about two years ago, which I've actually hated since the minute I started using it because the lid doesn't fit right. I never would have thrown out my nice old butter/margarine dish for that one, and now I'm starting to think that it's still more worthy of being kept. It probably cost me about $2.99 when I bought it, and it pleases me that something so cheap has done its job for so long.

The other thing is my alarm clock. I was noticing recently that my snooze button didn't seem to be working very well any more-- I am not a morning person, so my snooze button gets used a LOT! And my clock, I'm pretty sure, goes back even further than my butter dish: I'm pretty sure it's the same one I brought to college with me as a freshman, and probably used for a few years even before that. (I won't enumerate all the various ex-lovers who were also awakened by it!)

This time, I didn't have to buy a new clock. One of my father's many quirks was that he was always trying to find the perfect digital clock, and in the last few years before he died, he seems to have purchased about 20 of them. He had them stashed in different places around the house, and their various beeps and bleeps were freaking my mother out, so she gathered them all up and was going to get rid of them until I happened to mention that I could use a new one. In an admirable burst of frugality, my mother put 3 clocks each in my and Sweetie's Christmas stockings, and told us to keep whichever ones we wanted. (This isn't to say that Mom didn't go overboard on other Christmas spending, but that's a story for another day.)

These two examples may be a long and convoluted way of saying so, but it's just nice sometimes to enjoy the things you have and appreciate the value you've gotten from them, instead of only admiring things that are new and shiny. So many people just think "oh, I've had that for a few years, it's time for a new one," whether or not the item actually needs to be replaced. If you start adding up those $9 butter dishes and $20 digital clocks and who knows what else, it can turn into significant money after a while. So in this new year, why not resolve to appreciate the old, and keep it around for a bit longer?


Crystal said...

I really liked this post for three reasons:

1) I happily use the same digital clock that my mom gave me when I was a's the same one she used in college. My husband is on his third clock in the 8 years I've known him.

2) I also have had to recently review things I was planning to purchase that weren't really needed.

3) Appreciating things you already have makes life so much easier...less errands to run and more contentment with life as it is.

Craig said...

I agree, I have had the same crappy alarm clock for about 6 years now and have no interest in getting a new fancy one. It tells time and wakes me up, it's good to me.

MtnMama said...

I am one who replaces items with less enthusiasm than I used to. After the last big cross country move and subsequent purge of unnecessary stuff, I've found myself cherishing the things I've had "forever" and not needing near as much "stuff" as I used to. I think consumerism can be quite a head game.

Chariot said...

I agree; appreciate the stuff you have. Save money for retirement or things that will bring you more pleasure, like a vacation.

Griff said...

Amen to that. I've heard it said that the cheapest car you can own is the one you currently have. I think the same thing goes for other possessions. Good post.

bugbear said...

100+ year-old frying pan (my grandmother's), 50 year old chef's knife, 40 year old stainless steel cookware, the forest green cereal bowls and plates I bought at my banker's tag sale for $5 15 years ago....18 year old car.

mmm mmm good!

Dean @ PPLIC said...

Amen to your post. I happen to have an alarm clock. It's been with me for 5 years now and I never have any plans of changing it.