Grandmother’s China? Ciao!
It was wrapped up in newspapers dating from the mid-sixties—that was the first temptation. All those enchanting ads showing off women’s hair and bodies done up, girdled tight and shellacked to perfection. The very act of removing fifty years’ worth of protective paper seemed sacred—immediately qualifying the contents as Valuable, because they were Old. These relics of domesticity had belonged to the grandmother I still haven’t met—yet. As each piece revealed itself I imagined her using it, washing it with great care then packing it away until next time… until a granddaughter might …?
But I don’t know. Did my grandmother ever set this china out on a dinner table? I believe she may have received it as a gift close to the time she unexpectedly passed away.
This exotic set of dishes has migrated around my house for several years looking for a home. We used it one grand Easter Sunday. Then it went to live in the marvelously carved (and also migratory) Peruvian trunk camped in the garage.
Last fall as we built shelving (more storage, because we are consumers and collect stuff—you are too, do not judge) I opened the trunk, and it gleamed up at me. Selah.
All two times we ate from those dishes I washed each piece by hand in a dishcloth-lined sink. Piece by piece emerged from a tender towel dry to the best appointed table I could muster. Following a careful feast, the sacred cleaning rites were observed again complete with dishcloths, soft towels and a sigh of relief.
Our kitchen has space for everyday plates and cups. Dishwasher-friendly ones. The china now rests in Linen Closet Limbo waiting for a next owner, hopefully before this year ends. I would like to give it to Someone—really anyone—who would enjoy it, use it, surely not wrap it up in some measly modern newspaper for the next fifty years—captive to the pot-stirring political editorials of these times. Would you like my grandmother’s china? Please call me.
What is a better legacy of this grandmother I haven’t met yet? What about that lovely lad she raised—the one who shares his Monday Meals on Wheels route with me? The sweetness of his character I believe was influenced by her. His sister tells me what a wonderful and talented lady their mother was. She played the piano, organ and violin to the envy of many. She competently managed a small farm for several years while her husband was deployed as a chaplain in World War Two. She taught Spanish at the college level. Her fine gifts far exceed a set of bamboo-embezzled, gold-edged bone china from the Far East.
Would you like my grandmother’s china? Please call me.
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