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…of Mothers and Fine China

Oh, the stories she’d tell! Those special times each year that prompted the unveiling of the “fine china” always brought with them the stories from years ago, when that china came into the family.

Mom had two sets of beautiful china. She always said to me as a little girl that the china would be mine someday. Even then I was excited. Each Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas, the china would come out of the hutch and would have to be washed and set at the table. Sometimes it was just the three of us, sometimes other family and friends came to partake of my mom’s fabulous culinary skills. It never mattered to me when we ate on that china. It made the meal special. I didn’t even mind that the china couldn’t go into the dishwasher and had to be washed by hand.

The first set of china Mom owned she gave to me as a young newlywed. Since we didn’t have a good place to put it (we weren’t long into the residence of our “starter” home…no dining room, you see), we had it in a box in the “storage” room. Then, upon the planned arrival of our firstborn, the room needed to be cleared out in preparation for a nursery. Then the accident came and a rather large item fell upon the box of special china, smashing a few of the pieces. The pattern had been discontinued and I felt like I had shattered a small corner of my childhood. That new legacy would carry on to my children…and my children’s children. Mom didn’t need to know such a horrid tale and we quickly stowed away the remaining pieces for safe keeping.

Oh, but the other set of china. You should see it. A full service for twelve, with all of the extra serving dishes. A beautiful design of soft, small grayish flowers with the pieces edged in platinum. This set remains on display in the beautiful hutch of my youth. I look at it almost every time I go into my childhood home. This, too, is china that is supposed to come to me someday. Out of Mom’s two sets of china, this one was the most used. I have to admit, it’s my favorite of the two. Mom’s story about the day she bought the china goes back to a time in the 1950s, when Mom and Dad were stationed in Germany and Mom went to the Bx with a friend. The china was there, and Mom fell in love with it. She was amazed to see the price of $2.50 per five-piece setting. She and Dad entertained quite a bit in their military travels and she thought it would be the perfect set to use for just that…and at $2.50 a setting she bought service for twelve. Upon sharing her good find with other friends, one asked her to accompany them to the Bx a couple of weekends later. During that visit, it was unveiled by a store employee that the china was $25.00 per five-piece setting and just a couple of weekends ago they accidentally sold it at $2.50 per setting. Mom didn’t feel guilty enough to own up to being the purchaser, but she felt guilty enough to buy the serving dishes for the set. All told, she got an amazing deal on some china, and a great story, too!

Momma got very sick with cancer and we lost her close to a year and a half ago. Dad wanted to keep the china for now - of course he should - that beautiful hutch couldn’t bear to be empty. Pieces were rearranged in the hutch to Dad’s liking and that’s where it sits currently. Dad has taken a liking to another lady and, not wanting to be alone, asked her to move in with him. He was firm in his stance about no marriage until this week when it was announced that it was likely he and his lady-friend would likely get married late in the summer. Dad’s words “life’s too short” ring true in my ears. I want Dad to be happy and it seems that he has found this happiness with her. Selfishly, though, on my drive home all I could think about were the sentimental treasures in Dad’s house and what may happen should Dad pass on to Heaven before his new wife does. …and yes, that selfish thought was about the china. I don’t know her…would she keep it? Was Dad love-struck enough to change the will? Would I be able to pass down that full set of china to my daughter when she moves into her first home? Or would I need to give her the china with the missing pieces that resides in my home? All selfish thoughts I know, but I couldn’t prevent them from trickling in.

When the kids and I arrived home from our visit with Dad, the house was empty. When hubby arrived home a bit later he said he had a Mother’s Day gift for me that he couldn’t wait until tomorrow to give to me. My hubby does an amazing job of giving me gifts that choke me up, but when I peeled away the tissue I wasn’t prepared for this.

I immediately burst out in tears. I told him “I wasn’t expecting this” to which he said “um, neither was I!” He shared his story about how he had filled his cart with things he knew I would enjoy and use (a Calphalon wok, cutting boards, a nice bottle-opener set for wine to name a few) he also knew I was interested in some new wine glasses and we needed some new champagne glasses so thought he would take a look at what they had. As he headed back there, the broken china pieces flew into his head and he started looking at china and started looking at place settings that could come close to replacing that set with one I could pass down to our daughter someday. One he found the set, he ran back to the other parts of the store and put back everything in the cart. He knew he had found the “right” Mother’s Day gift for the softie also known as his wife.

But as the story unfolded, and I shared with him the news of the day - of Dad likely getting married, of my sorrow at what might happen to those sentimental items should Dad go first - it became clear to both of us that we had a little angel named “MOM” up in Heaven guiding my heart and hubby’s shopping cart. So with a little help from her, no matter what happens to that beautiful Noritake in the hutch at Dad’s house, the tradition of passing along the family china will continue…and now we have a story of our own to tell.

9 Comments »
Cathy said:

Happy Mother's Day.



Chris said:

That is such a sweet entry, Merri. I don't know if I could have put back the Calaphon stuff though:)

Happy Mother's Day

Chris
My Blog



That is such a wonderful and moving story. Your husband truly understands your heart. Enjoy your China and use it often!



Romeocat said:

Merri, that is a lovely story! I, too, have some china handed down from my Mom - two sets of Lenox, and one set of De Haviland from her mother. I cherish them dearly, and will of course hand them down to the Darling Munchkin when appropriate.

My Mom is still, thankfully, alive and kicking, and I'm so glad that she taught me to love beautiful, elegant things. My tastes are generally more simple than hers (on of the Lenox sets, "Olympia," is just a platinum band on cream china, and Mom disliked it 'cause it was too simple), but the tradition of having "good" things lives on in me.

Thanks so much for sharing this - and make sure you give that wonderful husband of yours some extra love and snuggles for the way he cherishes you! (Which I'm sure you've already taken care of, LOL)

-- R'cat
...



Janette said:

I swear you are married to one of the sweetest men on the face of the earth. You are so blessed!

Happy Monher's Day Merri!



Jane said:

::sniff:: Happy Mothers Day Merri, enjoy finding the perfect display!



Darleen said:

Ok, that got me to being a bit misty. Wonderful story!

Happy Mother's day!



kyer said:

Wonderful story, Merri. Thank you for sharing! Maybe now I'll learn to understand Ashley's appreciation for fine china.



Ashley said:

Merri,
You are woman after my own heart. I have tried to explain to Kyer why I love china. I used to go to my grandmom's house and help her clean and she always told me stories about how to pick china -- a style for all occasions and maybe one that had a design, but be sure to find a classic, elegant one so you can decorate the table.

I always dreamed of taking her to pick out my china pattern when I got engaged but she passed away before I was able to. So now china has become something very special and something sometimes Kyer doesn't always understand -- his family was quite different. I registered for a pattern that I think she would be proud of. Then I found a Christmas set on sale (a $500 set for $80 -- couldn't pass that up) and another beautiful one which sounds similar to the one you discribed -- with greysih flowers.

I think Kyer's finally learning and if he hasn't yet he will when I set the table and serve our first meal on the good china.

Thank you for your story!!

I can't wait to meet you some day!
Ashley



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