We are eating turkey burgers for dinner on the good china. I pour Crystal Light lemonade from my dazzling lead crystal pitcher into our Yugoslavian cut glass goblets. I’m using the antique lace napkins my mother left me. I’m using everything…now…before I die…not saving back anything. I had an epiphany.

Like most mothers, I planned on leaving my earthly possessions to the children. Our impending move from a large home in Ocala to our cute smaller house in MiraBay gave me a wonderful idea. Instead of waiting until I depart for heaven, what joy it would be for me to watch our kids carry off my treasured belongings to use in their own homes. I opened boxes that I had stored, packed, and moved around throughout our 40 years as a transient military family. I could hardly contain my enthusiasm thinking how my children would react when they saw everything.

I scheduled the day when all four families could come to Ocala. Nordstrom’s visual merchandisers would have been proud of my displays which were grouped according to style, colour, or value to me. I kept separated what I planned to take with me (to MiraBay not heaven). After everyone arrived, I explained the rules: from oldest to youngest they would select one article in turn until everything was gone. I estimated the selection process would take five or six hours at least.

Although I envisioned it would be like Christmas morning for them, their expressions reminded me of something else…like browsers at a Saturday morning estate sale. One said, “I guess I could use that small glass vase, but I’m really trying to downsize.” Another commented, “This is really nice stuff, but it just doesn’t go with my coastal décor.” I expected a few heated debates over who won my mother’s 16 place settings of Noritake china. Evidentially, they all had enough authentic Japanese Taiko drums, carved wooden elephants, encyclopaedias, ceramic eagles, china, and coveted collections of cups and saucers from around the world.

In a whirlwind of no more than 20 minutes, they had made their selections. I watched as my “stuff” was carried out to their cars. As the last car pulled out of the driveway, I turned to my husband, “That’s it? Look at everything they didn’t want! You mean I’m been lugging all this stuff around for years, storing it in padded boxes and bubble wrap, never using it, just for it to end up on shelves in a Goodwill store when we kick the bucket?”

That is why my good china, crystal glasses, and vintage porcelain cups are not only for special occasions anymore. I learned an important lesson from that day. James Cash (J. C.)Penney said, “Men are not great or small because of material possessions. They are great or small because of what they are.” Thus, my epiphany: Keeping valuable stuff for family inheritance only demonstrates what we have, but sharing our talents, time, and treasures with others everyday reveals what we are.