Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Good China

I'm learning Sweetie likes to change around every now and then. Not long ago, he declared he was ready for some new dishes. Huh? What's up with that? At the risk of sounding like someone named Luther, I think our plates are perfectly fine. 

Okay, perhaps they are a little boring - no flowers, no stripes, just plain Jane white. They still function well, so why bother to change them? And what would we change to? 

I don't know how Sweetie would respond to that question, but in my opinion, the answer is clear. We'd go straight to the Fiestaware store we browsed in Savannah, drop down a bucket load of money and walk out with plates, bowls, pitchers and platters in the old fashioned turquoise, yellow and green. They'd be called vintage. 

A turquoise disc pitcher of an age long ago never fails to remind me of being at my Grammy's camp in Vermont. It conjures up the whole feeling of camp. The pansies growing, snoozing in the hammock with a Nancy Drew mystery across my chest, the moldy, woodsy smell of the Patty cabin, a whole series of Oz books, the gasoline smell and the sound of a small boat putt-putting across the lake (how when someone stood up to pull the choke string I was afraid we'd tip over), digging up worms from the loamy soil in the woods next to the driveway rutted road, picking raspberries and popping them warm and juicy into my mouth, an old man with a missing arm, crispy clean sheets fresh from the clothesline, chipmunks skittering over rocks near the water, bird songs, daddy long-leg spiders, the mist over the lake, fireflies, and eating a whole jar of olives meant for my grandfather's martinis. I can't remember where I put my keys half the time, but one look at an antique vintage pitcher and my mind is flooded with memories.

The sad truth, of which I'm pretty sure, is that I'll never own any Fiestaware. And if I did, it wouldn't be Grammy's. And it wouldn't have the stories of my youth embedded in it's lead-free paint. Maybe that's why I could care less about our plain Jane plates. We haven't had them long enough for them to hold our stories. I'd gladly eat of plates laden with lead again if I could see my mom sitting on the front stoop, with a cigarette in her hand and a scarf wrapped around her head.

Last week, for no particular reason, I decided to pull out the "good china." Mom's Noritake. Thinking about it now, my heart must have known the reason. It just took awhile for my brain to catch up. Lately I've heard a lot of sad stories about lives unexpectedly cut short, of freak accidents or cancer diagnoses. Each story, whether it happens in Timbuktu or my own back yard, is a reminder of the tenuous hold we have on life. If life is so very fragile, why save the "good" china for a time that may never come? Why wait for a dinner party I'll probably never have? Why let the pretty plates with delicately painted flowers and a gold trim languish in plastic bags on a cupboard shelf? Shoot,  throwing them in the fireplace after Thanksgiving dinner would be a better end for a stained coffee cup and saucer than ending up in a thrift store waiting to be picked like a puppy at the humane society.

When did people start having two sets of china - one labeled every day and one labeled good? Who made the "good china" is only used on special occasion rule?

In October of last year, Christine Perkett wrote on her blog about using the good china as often as possible.

"... Because every day we have in life is lucky.Every moment we spend with someone who truly loves us is profound.Everyone we let into our home is impacting our lives in some way.Every day is special, even if it seems ordinary.And every moment matters. Every. Single. One.So get that china out. Seize the moment. Declare it special enough. Celebrate one more day of living." []

Makes me wonder what else I could be doing to make every day feel more special. My list might start with: Buy more flowers. Smile more. Voluneer at a homeless shelter. Write more thank you notes. Give up worrying. Listen more/better. Hold my Sweeties hand more often. Stop trying to be in charge of the world. Try new things (like Quinoa or kale).

Erma Bombeck supposedly wrote "If I Had My Life to Live Over" after being diagnosed with cancer (there is some discrepancy here). I've decided against waiting for disaster to strike, I'm using the Noritake now and smiling more at the happy feeling in the vicinity of my heart since I started setting the table with the good china.

When was the last time you used the good china?

How would you make your life more special?

Merry ME


Constance said...

Glad that you got your good china out. You are right, it is so important to cherish the life we have, and make the moments special.

I haven't used my good china since I moved into the house. I really should. Thank you for reminding me that staying in the cabinet isn't enjoying it like it was meant to be used:)

Anonymous said...

Very well put! My dad reminded me of some plates his mother gave to him for Josh and me years ago and when I needed plates for my new home I jumped on the opportunity. When he brought them wrapped in newspaper it was like opening a surprise gift packed full of memories! Almost like the time box (wrong name but I can not think of the right one ;)). They were wrapped in newspaper form 2001 and they were fancy ivory plates, each hand painted with the date 11.12.23. Wow! Was all I could think looking at these plates. I have no childhood memory attached to them but make believeing all the stories associated with them is fun. Having the conversation with my gradmother about that was even better. Learning they were originally her mothers is even cooler! I now use them as my everyday plates and they are so special to me. I may not be able to microwave them but that is Aok with me. They are better than any plates I could have picked up at a store. And the one $1 plate from walmart I purchased for microwaving suffices enough for that need. Anyways...I didn't mean for my response to be so lengthy but I've enjoyed sharing and thankful for a moment to share in a moment where the excitement and pleasure of the plates would be enjoyed. Cherish your good china! Glad you chose to use it!! :)

Btw...try the Kale...its delicous! Oh and we should have a quinoa trying moment together.

Always a joy and pleasure to read your posts. Love you. Sunny!!

Anonymous said...

well, You could come and eat at my house, where not a single dish or plate or cup or bowl matches, but they all have stories..