That Thing When You Surrender Desire for Something – And Then Receive It

DH = Dear Husband

Dave Ramsey’s Jag Story

When Dave Ramsey went bankrupt and lost everything as a young husband and father in his twenties, he found it especially painful to surrender his beloved Jaguar. The day his prized possession was towed away, he cried. In his book, The Total Money Makeover, he tells the story with a good dose of sarcasm and mortification about his younger self.

Fast forward years later, a much wiser Ramsey – out of debt, diligently investing, and mindfully spending – was on the lookout for a used car. And at that time there happened to be a great deal on a used . . . You guessed it! Jag! So years after surrendering his over-the-top desire for the car, he got to enjoy ownership of it.

Bridal China vs. Pool Table

As DH and I planned our wedding in the early 90s, we had to decide what would be on our gift registry. I was thinking of the typical china set, but DH had a less conventional idea: He proposed a pool table. Our guests would buy gift cards for the amount of their choice, all to be used for a pool table that he said would be a lot more fun than a china set. I ended up agreeing to his plan with the understanding that for our 10th wedding anniversary, we’d buy my choice of china.

Our matrimonial pool table

What’s so great about china dishes?

Logically, I understood DH’s indifference to fancy dishware. But I’d grown up with a cabinet full of my mother’s mother’s china – and we used it often. (That’s the gravy boat featured above.) Whenever there was company and whenever we celebrated a holiday, the special dishes would come out. I associated them with feasts of celebration and with bonds of generations of family.

10 years later . . .

DH and I celebrated our 10th anniversary at the lowest point of his career. He’d gone through five years of a work roller-coaster as a result of the high tech bust – with one company after another failing – and he’d had enough of it. Without knowing what his next step would be, he left the high tech industry. We didn’t know it at the time, but six years of under/unemployment were to follow. The purchase of a china dish set was out of the question.

And soon after things did turn around – when it was clear that the business DH had started  was going to be successful – we woke up to our financial mess. Years of high spending had left us with both a big mortgage and significant consumer debt. Years of employment stress and some poor financial decisions had led to the growth of our debts. DH’s entrepreneurial venture had meant we added a significant business loan to our grand total. Our wake-up was followed by the start of our journey out of debt – which meant that buying china dishware was still just not going to happen.

In praise of Correlle

Just over a month ago, Mrs. Picky Pincher wrote a post in praise of her Correlle dishes. Durable, cheap, functional . . . What’s not to love about Correlle? Here’s what I wrote in the comments section:

“When my husband and I married, we bought Corelle dishes – with the idea that we’d get a nice china set at our 10-year mark. That time has come and gone – and we still manage to get by with our Corelle dishes – no china. It doesn’t even occur to me to feel deprived. They do the trick : )”

I had completely surrendered my desire for fancy china. I had thoroughly learned the truth that “feasts of celebration and bonds of generations of family” could flourish over cheap dishes just as well as they did over the antique china of my childhood.

Our faithful Correlle dishes

My grandmother’s china

My mother moved to a retirement home last month. She left her condo and most of her possessions behind her, and her five children are now sorting through her stuff – giving most of it away – to get her place ready to sell. Of course there are some things that we’ve decided to keep.

And since everyone else already has nice dishes, I have been free to choose my grandmother’s china.

Mom has said she’ll be glad to see her things in use in her children’s homes. You can bet that the next time I have her over for dinner, we’ll be getting out the fancy dishes.

Have you ever had the experience of surrendering a desire for something?  Has that surrender ever been followed by your receiving it? Your comments are welcome. 


31 comments on “That Thing When You Surrender Desire for Something – And Then Receive It

  1. Awww, what a sweet story, Ruth. My parents never had fancy china, but they did get this really nice china set (remember the blue and white stuff?) from the bank as a reward for making deposits way back in the early 70’s. All of the pieces are broken and gone now (three rambunctious children helped with that), but there is one serving plate left, which I now own. I cherish it so much, and we use it at every family gathering.

    1. I do remember the blue and white stuff : ) I love that blue. And I completely understand why you cherish that serving plate. I hope it avoids the fate of those other dishes : ) (Are your 4 children less “rambunctious” than you and your siblings were?)

  2. Our china is a set that my wife’s grandmother had. I think heirlooms are great. Excellent story, thanks for sharing and for having a great perspective along the way.

    1. There really is a value in something having been passed from generation to generation in a family. And when it’s connected to eating . . . well, the value goes way up : ) Thank you Mr. Money Beagle.

  3. Love the way it came back full circle. My wife and I are the proud owners of her grandparents china. We use it on special occasions/ holidays. Something very sentimental about it. Brings back great childhood memories for her. Did you ever buy the pool table?

    1. We did get the pool table. And I’ve included a photo of it in the post thanks to your question : ) The gift cards covered cues, cue holder, cup holder, score board, and lights as well as the table and balls. I’m glad you understand your wife’s sentimentality about her family china. It will be embedded with more great memories from your generation. My guess is that of your children, your daughter will value it most : )

  4. My parents still use the dishes they received at the wedding occasionally, although they have purchased some that are more trendy for when they have guests.

    I inherited my great grandparents silver dinnerware when they passed. It saved my wife & I buying our own set and we are slowly acquiring our own china set as well from relatives & it means more because they are family heirlooms.

    1. Silver dinnerware? As in the kind that you actually have to polish? I remember shining silver as a child. What a job that is! I’m glad you’re enjoying your family heirlooms, Josh : )

  5. Oh I am such a Corelle lover! They are so lightweight and durable. I do not miss dishes that chip and break, not one bit. My Mom gave me her fancy china that I loved so much as a kid when I left home, and one by one, they chipped and broke, even though I only used them for holiday dinners. Maybe I’m just not fancy enough for fancy dining. 😛
    I love your story. Do you still have the pool table? I loved DH’s idea on that. I would love to have a pool table and a ping pong table in my home! OH, and a jag. OH OH! And an indoor pool and jacuzzi! I’ll stop now. 🙂

    1. We do have the pool table (see newly added photo in post). And guess what? We have a ping pong table too. Maybe they would fit in your RV? And as for chipping and breaking the china, I have no doubt that I’ll do plenty of both. (Did you really break every single dish?)

      1. That is a NICE table! WOW! 🙂
        There were a few dishes left, so I decided to take a hammer to them and try a mosaic craft thingy. Afterwards, I remembered I didn’t know how. Then I found out how. But unfortunately, by that point, I realized I didn’t want to after all. 😛

  6. That’s a beautiful story, Ruth. The things we get from our family are more special anyway. I find that using the good china for a special occasion is more of an effort than anything, and I am perfectly content with using our plain white Corelle. But my wife usually takes every opportunity to get those china dishes out of the hutch…of course she doesn’t wash the dishes! 😉

    1. Thanks, Gary. I really hope to make use of those dishes as my parents did – though my husband, like you, doesn’t think that will happen since we have both been content with the Correlle. Like your wife, I plan to get the china on the table. (But unlike her, I will be doing the dishes. I’d like to know how she avoids that part : )

  7. When I was in college and my car died a sad tragic death I needed a new one. I wanted a “nice” car something fast and sporty, but realized I’d be hosing myself if I got what I wanted. one of the few “correct” financial decisions I made. Fast forward to needing to replace another car that was getting expensive to repair constantly and I got a new Camaro – right after they did that redesign. I remember writing about it in our oldest’s memory book when it asked what car I drove and why did I have that car. I replied it was the first time I could buy what I wanted, not what I could afford. I loved driving that Camaro.

    We don’t have any fancy china but did upgrade our heavy dishes to some Correlle ones and I love them.

    1. Thanks Mr. SSC. You were wiser than the average young man in college with a car. What a great example for your eldest! I hope the lesson of delayed gratification catches. I wish you many fine feasts and family & social gatherings with your Correlle. It’s great stuff : )

  8. I love Corelle! I have a vintage set of the butterfly pattern I picked up at a garage sale several years ago. And I just read an article that the vintage Corelle is in high demand (along with other vintage dishes). There are so many good things about Corelle, but my favorite thing is they are lightweight and stack easily.

    I used to have china that my grandparents picked up at an auction for me. I just never got it out because I couldn’t put it in the dishwasher (or at least I thought I couldn’t). Eventually, I decided it was just taking up space and got rid of it.

    1. I’m pretty sure the china we have has been through the dishwasher – but I’ll have to make sure. Didn’t think of that! You are a very practical person, Amanda. I love it that the Correlle dishes that you bought at a garage sale turn out to be in high demand among collectors! I wonder if you’ll end up selling them for some crazy profit.

    1. Thank you so much, Jackie. I too like the idea of actually using items that have been passed down – not just storing them like museum pieces. (You must be Canadian. I see the way you’ve spelled “favourite” . Am I right?)

  9. This headline totally brought me in, because Yes, I do know about this phenomenon! I love it. Seems to me like so often this is the way it works with older singles who have “given up” on finding love.

    1. Yes, there is definitely a romantic application here, Janeen! I remember Oprah talking about it, and imitating a woman determined to surrender. “I am not looking for Mr. RIght. I am not looking for Mr. Right . . . But is that him over there?” It can be very difficult to surrender desires, but it’s the way to go.

  10. I’ve never really surrendered my desire for something. Throughout my life I’ve really just been focused on my main goal: becoming as rich as possible.
    Now how I get there will change over time. Originally I tried to get into the Ivy Leagues, but when that didn’t work out I went to a local university and started my own business.

    1. I would say you did surrender your desire for an Ivy League education. It probably symbolized success to you in the same way that china symbolized a rich family life for me. Your success clearly didn’t depend upon acceptance at an Ivy League school as it turned out – any more than I needed china to have great holiday gatherings. When we surrender the non-essential, it brings the essential into sharper focus. (Now my question for you is, “Why do you want to become as rich as possible?” It seems like a means to an end – not the end itself. But maybe I’m wrong?)

  11. I’ve experienced this phenomenon so many times, it’s hard to even remember all the details! Most recently, I realized all my sweatshirts had worn out over the years and I didn’t own a single sweatshirt anymore. I decided to make do with my sweaters, and then my mother-in-law gave me a super warm sweatshirt she’d picked up at a thrift shop for me. It’s such a small example, but it’s happened so many times that it definitely has added up. I think that point of contentment is also just a great place to make spending decisions from, when you don’t happen to come into that item for free.

    1. “I think that point of contentment is also just a great place to make spending decisions from” – Amen to that. If you look at Ramsey’s Jag example – which is such an extreme one – he clearly thought the Jag was fundamentally necessary to his happiness. That is such a powerless place from which to operate. When contentment is there, no such expectation or need exists. That’s a great example you’ve shared about the sweatshirt : ) Thanks, Kalie.

  12. I inherited my grandmother’s silverware when she passed away. Although I wish she were still here and my memories of her continue to be strong, when I see the silverware, I reminisce about all the Thanksgiving dinners at her house, when this silverware was utilized 🙂

    1. That’s it exactly! I understand completely, Mackenzie. And isn’t it lovely to know that your daughter will probably have the same great associations with that silverware?

  13. I cherish my grandmothers crystal wine glasses that have been handed down to me. You should come over one day and we can use them have a glass of wine. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *