Years ago when we were visiting my grandmother, she told my dad to go down into the basement and bring up a box of dishes. When he did, she told him to just haul it to the curb and throw it out. I gasped in horror and asked if I could have the contents. It was my great aunt’s china!
Grandma was very sensible. So many in her generation were. It comes from the hardships of living through the depression and raising nine kids. She saved things that were useful and eschewed the frivolous extras. Fine china was one of those fancy things that “no one needs” in her mind. When her sister passed away, she ended up with the box in the basement and it was uselessly taking up space.
I didn’t even look at the contents until we got home. Great Aunt Leah and her husband had been well off. When they married, they registered for gifts (very rare in those days) and the box contained almost an entire service for 12.
It was so fancy that I had to find an old etiquette guide to figure out what all the pieces were for. There are more than half a dozen plates … dinner plates, luncheon plates, salad plates, dessert plates, butter plates – dinner AND breakfast!, bread plates, tea plates … you get the point.
I was overwhelmed at first, then I embraced it. I love getting out all the pieces and setting a super fancy table for a holiday meal. Crystal water glasses, wine glasses (both red and white), champagne flutes for before dinner sips … the list goes on and always adds flair to my attitude as well as my table.
I still refer to my 1954 Amy Vanderbilt Etiquette Guide when I get a little lost. It takes me back to a time before I was born when good manners were always expected, elegant dinner parties were for special occasions and everything about an event was carefully considered in the planning.
The good china always comes out for Christmas Eve dinner at our home. It’s probably the most upscale event of the year for us. We plan for weeks and spend hours fretting over the details. We love taking the time to make it perfect even when it’s just the two of us … it’s even more special when we share it with friends.
There’s a whole world out there just waiting to be explored. Always put your best foot forward.
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