Blog Schedule

I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Old Things

Tricia over at Talespinning shared a picture of a beautiful piece of china hand-painted by her grandmother.

This got me to thinking...

My sister and I are blessed to have many things passed down from our great-grandmothers and from family friends.

Rather than sitting in a cabinet to be seen and never touched, in our family the china, crystal, silver and linen were loved by being used for special occasions like birthdays and holidays. There is a deep emotional connection, visceral, as mouth wraps around fork, as lips touch the rim of a wine glass that was used by someone 50 to 75 years ago. Using it taught my sister and me how to handle and care for it. Erva uses her china on a daily basis.

One of my prize possessions is a near complete luncheon set of Harebell bone-china made by Shelly, an English company no longer in existence. It was given to me by Charlotte.
This picture really doesn't do it justice.

But here, on this "eared" cream-soup bowl, you can see the layers of color; the light and dark blues and greens, the lavenders. The vines and flowers look like a gentle breeze is stirring them.

I can almost see fairies peeking out from behind leaves, swinging from the stems.

I remember when Charlotte would set the lunch table for me and her and Gus. Matching tablecloth and napkins, the Harebell, sterling silver flat-ware. She would let me help. I would carry one plate at a time across the concrete floor from the kitchen to the table. Then we'd sit down to some simple meal like sandwiches and a salad. Afterwards we'd clear the table. Charlotte or Gus washed the dishes, I helped by drying and setting them aside on the counter. When everything was clean Charlotte would put the china back on their open shelves which were too high for me to reach.

We don't live like this any more. We don't take the time to dine, even if the fare is simple. We gobble and bolt. Many of us eat off plastic or paper, in front of the TV. We are losing, maybe even have lost, the ability to set a table and sit together.

Yet food and the process of eating is really the only communal thing all humans do. We have no problem eating out and dining with strangers all around us. In fact, we enjoy it, maybe even need it. I think it's genetic, a caveman thing, from a time when we all had to share in the hunting and gathering and thus shared in the meal. Like animals that share a waterhole, enemies and strangers come together in the presence of food.

Maybe the way to world peace is through our stomachs.


  1. Oh, yes! Even when it's just me, while Mom has her "breakfast in bed," I'll have mine at the table on the terrace, whether it's just juice, tea or coffee, toast and maybe a coddled egg or two, but all on my china and with the silver. It looks nice, has the feel of something resembling a gracious way of doing things, and carries a fond rememberance of the civilizing influences of Nana, Grammy, Charlotte and Mom.

    Another plus is that china and glassware are a lot easier to wash and keep clean than plastic!

    Thanks for this post!

  2. What beautiful pieces! I don't have any antique pieces of anything from my relatives but an antique beautiful dresser. My sister has my grandmother's tea cups in my grandma's curio cabinet.
    We don't use our own wedding china much as I dread taking that extra step of washing everything by hand. I should use it at least once a year.
    We do sit together as a family though most nights and eat with our cloth napkins and regular dinnerware.

  3. Oh, I love that you wrote this after visiting me. I feel like we shared tea.
    Your cream soup bowl is so pretty, makes me want to see the fairies, too. You drew such a lovely portrait of your family tradition.
    When you brought up the communal aspect of dining, you reminded me that I once almost burst into laughter in a restaurant. I don't know why, but I suddenly found it amusing that strangers all came together to eat. I like your wish that maybe it's a way to world peace. :-)

  4. Lovely post, Bish. Mealtimes are so special for us. Even if it's a simple fare of fruit and vegetables and cheese. And even if we have to split up because of baseball or dance or whatever ... suppertime is our time to be together, share stories of the day, enjoy each other's company, and of course, fill our bellies.

    I have the steel dishes from my childhood. Indestructible! I know many people think of it as camping fare, but I love these dishes, with our names engraved.

  5. I look forward to dining with you on the terrace, Erva.

    Eating together is good, Kelly. And cloth napkins are nice. (Cheaper than using paper all the time!)

    Thank you Tricia! Isn't odd how comfortable we are, sipping, slurping and chewing in front of total strangers? It's people who don't like to eat in front of others who have problems, everything from eating disorders to anti-social tendencies.

    Wow Vijaya! Steel plates? Those have got to be great for everyday use. Having your names on them gives such a special touch.

  6. Beautiful china! When I was growing up, my mom always brought out the good stuff for special occasions. It's a tradition I've tried to keep up.

  7. Beautiful china pieces. The only real china I have is my wedding china, and now I don't like it as much as when we picked it out. It's white with gray leaves on on (can't remember the name), but it doesn't really fit in with anything else we have. I do have Christmas dishes I get out during the holidays. I'd rather look at little snowmen than gray leaves anyway! ;)


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