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March 30, 2015
Life on Planet Kathy
Acres of Nightgowns
by Kathryn H. Kidd

Here’s Kathy’s little gem of wisdom for this week: There aren't many perks about sitting around in a wheelchair, but one of them is that you get to entertain guests in a nightgown and nobody blinks an eye.

I never even thought about this little privilege until I was wheelchair-bound myself.  Suddenly it didn't make sense to get all gussied up if I wasn't leaving the house, so I didn't.

I am not the first female who has lounged around in her nightie in a wheelchair.  I am not personally acquainted with a whole lot of wheelchair demons, but when I was growing up there were people in wheelchairs in movies.  They were black-and-white movies, so the ladies wore black-and-white nighties. 

Nevertheless, the nightgowns were quite attractive, and they served to make the people in the wheelchairs look ever-so-frail.

I have never for a minute felt frail, nor have I had any intention of conveying that impression.  But nightgowns are comfortable, darn it.  They are my favorite articles of clothing.  I always looked for any excuse to wear nightgowns full-time.  I would rather not be in a wheelchair, but if I am going to be in a wheelchair, mind you, I might as well take advantage of the situation and be comfortable.

But there is particular nightgown etiquette at play here.  I am certain it is in the wheelchair etiquette rulebook, and even though nobody has ever given me a copy of the rulebook, I have memorized it by osmosis.  One of the rules for women must say that if you wear nightgowns to entertain in your home, they cannot be the same nightgowns you sleep in.

Sure enough, my downstairs nightgowns are solely for entertaining or for working in my office.  There is a whole different inventory of upstairs nightgowns for sleeping. 

They have not made one another's acquaintance.

You probably think I have a dozen or so nightgowns in assorted colors.  This would be an understatement.  I have a slight tendency towards overkill ("Overkill, thy name is Kathy"), and overkill has hit the nightgown department with a vengeance. 

I have one nightgown in eight different colors.  I have another in four.  There are other patterns and assortments, but you get the picture. I even have a few duplicates of the same nightgown. When you have that many, it’s difficult to keep track.

Although I am not a short person, now that I have lost a considerable amount of weight, most of the downstairs nightgowns are taller than I am — way taller than I am.  Most of them should be shortened by more than a foot.  Would that I knew how to do it!

I had a grand total of three nightgowns (the same nightgown in three colors) that I cherished because, unlike all the others, they were nice and short.  They went only down to my knees, so they did not cause me to trip when I tried to stand.  They did not get caught in my feet when I tried to navigate the stairs.  Oh boy, is it scary to go down the stairs on paralyzed feet when your nightgown gets caught in your shoes!

As much as I liked those three nightgowns, the just did not appear in the nightgown rotation often enough.  I wanted a dozen more of them, but even one would have been a boon and a blessing. 

So it was cause for great excitement last week when Fluffy found an unopened gray plastic mailer, opened it, and found a new nightgown, just like the other three — nice and short, and in the same flowered fabric as the other three short nightgowns, but in a different color.

He looked at the receipt in the bag.  I had purchased the nightgown in November of 2013 and then never opened the bag when it arrived.  For a year and four months, it has been sitting in a corner somewhere, unopened and unloved.

This is something I have a tendency to do. I’ll order something and then won’t have time to open it when it arrives. Or I’ll feel guilty for spending the money. Or I’ll be afraid it won’t fit and think I’ll try it on later, but later never comes. The mailer sits in a corner for weeks or months, gathering dust. Sometimes it sits in a corner for longer than that.

How many of the blessings in my life, and in your life, are recognized and unclaimed — as useless to us as a nightgown sealed in a gray plastic mailer?

It’s like that old story Acres of Diamonds about the man who sold his farm and wasted his life in the pursuit of diamonds, only to learn that there were millions of diamonds buried under the farm he sold. I suspect we have many such diamonds waiting to be found in our own lives, if we just take the time to look for them.

Perhaps the reason we are commanded to not covet is because coveting the blessings of others distracts us from the even greater blessings that remain overlooked or unappreciated in our own lives.

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