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Chronicles of Adulthood: I broke down and bought napkins

Martha Stewart embroidered fruit napkins: Please shoot me if I ever make these.

These days, like anyone plowing towards 30, I’ve gotten a lot of adulthood thrown at me in the last few months: a wedding, a house and a lot of new bills to pay. On top of that, I’ve been abandoning my hand-me-down collection of furniture and kitchen supplies. Thanks to the wedding registry, I now own a lot of the typical trappings of adulthood: matching towels, two changes of sheets and a complete set of silverware. Life does feel more official when you don’t have to drink wine out of coffee mugs and make scrambled eggs in a wok.

But despite the array of appliances and dinnerware that hid in my cabinets, I still didn’t have one thing that most normal homemakers own: napkins. Why buy napkins when paper towels do double duty as mouth/hand wipes and counter top cleaners? Napkins seemed excessive, expensive and bad for the environment. But more than that, refusing to buy napkins was my one last hold out from the just-out-of-college days when I used to make toast in a frying pan.

This past Christmas Eve, my husband and I hosted our first holiday dinner in our new (to us) house. I went overboard, planning a multi-course meal with enough food for 20. I still have pork tenderloin in my freezer.  A few days before our big dinner, I went to the store to buy ingredients. But between the diary and the vegetables, I found myself lingering in front of the paper goods aisle. There they were: napkins. I didn’t want to spend the $3.50 when my paper towels would do just fine. What is this extravaganza of excessive paper goods! But… this was my big holiday debut. My coming out as an official, married, holiday-hosting grown-up, and only the best would do. I bought the napkins.

When I was little, I used beg my parents to tell me when I would finally be a grown up. In effort to prompt them to reveal this secret, I gave them some milestones as suggestions. High school graduation? College graduation? First “real” job? Getting married?  These days, I feel that the final straw of adulthood is the purchase of napkins.

As my napkin supply dwindles, I ponder an important decision: Am I now a napkin person?  Am I ready to make that plunge into adulthood? My kitchen feels so grown up with its stainless steel appliances, granite countertops and stand mixer (in red, coordinating with my red potholders and red kitchen towels). It needs just a little chaos. The chronic lack of napkins provides that element of slapped-together, my-first-apartment-ness that I need to stay grounded in youth.

As  vital as this choice is, I don’t have forever to make the decision.  I am burning through my napkin supply. I’ve got a cold, you see, and napkins make excellent Kleenex.

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  1. kathleen says:

    Using cloth napkins and dishtowels is actually far better for the environment than using paper towels and napkins which use tons of water to be produced, plus there are so many fun options!

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