“There once was a Velveteen Rabbit, and in the beginning he was really splendid. He was fat and bunchy, as a rabbit should be; his coat was spotted brown and white, he had real thread whiskers, and his ears were lined with pink sateen.” So begins the well-known children’s book, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams.
Splendid though the Rabbit is, other toys capture the Boy’s attention and the Rabbit is relegated to the bottom of toy cupboard where he is snubbed by the other toys. Except for the wise, experienced Skin Horse who knows about nursery magic.
Alas, tales of nursery magic and toys coming to life after midnight disappear as we enter adulthood. Indulge me for a moment, if you would.
What if the dishes in your cupboard, the clothes in your closet or other objects in your home talked to each other after midnight? What would the fraying cotton shirt say to the silk dress? Would the wedding china be jealous of the chipped tea mug? Would the handknit sweater complain about the oil splatter? Is there something that would voice a longing to be dusted off, unwrapped, unfolded and used?
So often people feel like they can’t use beautiful things. Even beautiful things that are created to be functional. Afraid this beautiful object will become less beautiful with use, they store it away, waiting for that special occasion.
What if the every day was a special occasion? What if you did use them?
One night, the Boy’s favorite snuggle toy can’t be found and Nana grabs the Rabbit. Soon the Boy takes the Rabbit everywhere with him. And the Rabbit is so happy that he doesn’t notice that his fur is getting shabby and the spots are fading, that seams are coming undone and his whiskers have fallen out. The Boy loves him and the nursery magic has made the Rabbit Real.
It’s just as the Skin Horse had told him: once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.
Just this evening as I reached for the jar of whole peppercorns, I accidentally knocked over the container of dried basil. It fell at a peculiar angle and broke the ceramic spoon rest on the stove. The lovely blue one with the shell relief on it that friends gave us. So tomorrow I’ll wash the peanut sauce off the pieces and hunt around for some superglue. And the cracks will remind me of this evening.
If the spoon rest had been packed safely way – or if I hadn’t been clumsy – it would still be in one piece. But for the past few years, I wouldn’t have delighted in the gorgeous blue every time I put a dirty spoon down on it.
Yes, the ceramic spoon rest might break, the quilted cushion might fade, and the elegant shirt might get stained. But what part of you becomes Real by using it?
Something about the embroidered jacket, the handblown glass, the birch basket spoke to you enough that you bought it. Or spoke to the person who gave it to you. Let it continue to speak to you as you use it, engage with it, interact with it, in your daily life.
If you are lucky enough to own something precious that spoke to you once, then please… let it continue to speak to you.