Never Met a Dish I Didn't Love
I never met a dish, I didn't love. That is to say, I adore plates,cups, saucers,platters, and bowls. It is an ailment I contracted a while back. My earliest memory of this porcelain fascination has to be, when the story-tale dish, ' ran away with the spoon'. I have not been seen professionally, as of yet, but am sure, I am free to blame my sickness on my mother. After-all, it is an inherited disease, passed down from a long line of maternal cup 'coveters'. My purveyance of dishes; gold, silver rimmed, bordered with raised impressions, flowered and so on, goes back to the days of my childhood. The days before, Target, and Walmart. Those were the days when only fine department stores, with elevators to the mezzanine sold fine china. I can remember standing at my mother's elbow, looking up at the plate lined wall. The beautifully designed plates, were adorned by small paper name-tags, bearing the price, per place setting. The names on the tags were as regal as the pottery for which their nomenclature stood.
As far as I know, my mother received her first set of special china, from my father. It was a wedding present. He purchased the twelve piece setting from a department store, in the town in which they were married. For a long time, it was the only good china my mother owned. It was only used on extremely special occasions. To my knowledge, the set of Noritake dishes is still in pristine, perfect condition. My mother was the only person who ever washed the set. I only admired the stunning dishware from afar.
My mother's love for gorgeous table settings came to her through an odd set of circumstances. Like me,she gained her fascination of such beauties, at the elbow of her mother. But not in a department store. My grandmother worked in the kitchen of a very rich white lady (It is only significant that she was white, for reference to the time in which my mother was young). This was before integration and before 'colored ' people stood on mezzanines, at plate lined walls, in fancy department stores. Still, my mother, by way of my grandmother obtained a great love. The lady for whom my grandmother was employed, had many, many, china objects of affection. The affection was transferred to the woman who washed, dried,polished, and generally attended to the aforementioned tableware on special occasions. The affection transferred from my grandmother, to my mother, and finally, to me. Somewhere along the way, and through generations, affection, became infection, with 'ism' proportions.
I appreciate the properness of porcelain, the cheeriness of china, the practicality of sturdy pfaltzgraff, and am feverish for Fiesta Ware. As with every addiction, the first step to recovery is to admit, 'I have a problem'. I do. The second step, is to 'give a flying leap'. I don't. In fact, I embrace my addiction. I revel in the symptoms of my disease, and attempt to infect my children. I am finding that I am fairly successful at this attempt. On a recent trip to the mall, my twelve year old daughter wanted to cruise through Macy's. I, of course obliged, and headed for the junior department. I was soon informed, she would rather check out the Martha Stewart Collection upstairs. I felt so validated.
I must admit, most of our acquisitions, are not secured through Macy's, or any other department store. Goodwill, Faith Farm(a local equivalent), and second hand shops, are preferable sources. I do not acquire, simply for the sake of acquiring. My most cherished pieces were not acquisitions at all, but gifts. A complete set of Haviland China, was a gift from my mother many years ago. A divine set of silver, was a present from my mother in law, the night before I married her son. In as much as I am in desperate need of a twelve step program, it is actually for me, more about passing on the 'love' of family through heirlooms.
If successful in my contagion techniques, my infected children will one day set a table which reflects more than affection for porcelain, and fine china.The table of the future will mirror memories of the past. My grandchildren may actually touch what their great grandmothers handled, and lovingly passed on. It is not about the breakable 'things". It is about a child of the future, connecting to a loved one of the past. It is remembering aunts, uncles, and parents who gathered at a far away, long ago table. It is hearing precedent voices in the tinkling melody of fine china rinsed in the sink. The ring of our 'best' plates and saucers, that ping, and chime, symbolizes the twinkling in a grandparent's eye, praise of aunts and the teasing of uncles.
It is not merely on special occasions and lavish dinners that the table is set with exquisite dishes. I never stifle the desire to use any plate, cup saucer, or butter knife. I suppose for some folk, it is possible to have way too many dishes. This is a prospect with which I never concern myself. Each piece has a story, and every dish a destination. Therefore, the more, the merrier.
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