Last night, as I unloaded the dishwasher, I realized I’ve had my blue glass dishes for quite awhile now, since the Christmas of 2002, when
I was broken-hearted and exhausted and shakily making my way through my divorce. That year, both my mother and my sister-in-law gave me dishes. Without consulting each other, they both chose blue glass, and chose to give me new dinnerware. Isn’t that amazing?
Although neither of them would have articulated it exactly, they knew I needed a fresh start, a marker of my new life,
an un-wedding present. Food and cooking had marked my life with my ex. He had (has) a big personality and liked entertaining, and most of our family gatherings centered either on his Sunday breakfasts or summer Sunday barbecues. We had a set of white dishes, ordinary, but specific to that time–the china with silver around the edges, and a faint pattern of leaves. I got rid of them and installed my new blue dishes with the most enormous sense of relief. Even as I’ve gone through my most foodie period ever, I’ve kept them. (Blue does not display food well.) It’s probably a great gift for any woman–or man–getting divorced.
As I took the blue plates, given with such intuitive intelligence all those years ago, I flashed on the antique saucers and bowls, all edged with roses and gold, that I used to collect from thrift shops when I was a starving college student. And then backward to my mother’s Currier and Ives set, the ubiquitous dinner plates of the 60s. She may still have a few remnants, but her dishes are bold and colorful now.
A couple of years ago. I happened upon an old set of china, much like the old saucers I loved. They lacked dinner plates, but everything else was there–small dessert bowls, delicate cups, saucers, serving dishes, and the lot was only $25. I now use them for tea parties and special occasions, supplementing my blue glass plates with the brightness of the antique china, and I feel like the whole me, young woman and older one melded together.
The dishes we use are charged with powerful memories and emotions, a thousand meals and conversations, love and conflict, laughter and tears. I’ve been thinking about getting a new set of china lately, and that must be because I’m entering a new stage of my life. It will be fun to celebrate that with new dishes.
What do you currently use? And do you have memories of other sets of dishes? Did you ever give away a set, like I did?