As a child, we had some neighbors – Montaree (we called her Montie) and Mr. Doc. They were retired farmers who had bought a few acres from us and built a small house to live out their retirement. They were surrogate grandparents to me, and I loved them intensely.
They were simple folks who lived in a simple house, and like many of the generation that had survived the Depression, were thrifty. They made do, or they did without. Nothing was wasted in that house, ever.
They had a son who lived in Jackson, three hours away, who always came for holidays. And as she prepared for their arrival, the threadbare sheets and towels were put away, and out came the beautiful, fluffy towels that had been in hiding since the last holiday. She had special towels for guests, or, as she called them, company. She had special dishes for when company came over too, and special silverware.
I asked her once why she didn’t always use them, and she said they were too pretty to use everyday, so they were saved for company.
Mr. Doc died in the summer, and shortly afterwards, things changed in the house. The everyday plates went away, and the good plates came out. The towels on the bar in the bathroom were fluffy, and the company silverware went into rotation.
I saw the good towels in the bathroom and asked her who was coming.
“Nobody is. After Doc died, I decided to treat myself like company.”
That is still the best self-care advice anyone ever gave me – treat yourself like company.