I seem to be drawn magnet-like to those of my possessions which have seen their better days. Perhaps it is truer to say that these are the things to which I have the greatest connection. They feel the most like mine. I'm sure it started out with the idea of "saving the best for company." The occasions of hosting guests with The Good China have been very few and very far between. I usually prefer to use the decent everyday pieces over those with the silver rim that would be damaged by the dishwasher. With the addition of a young granddaughter at any big family dinners that I host from now on, who will guard The Good China from her surging inquisitiveness if I choose to use it?
The Good China consists of the silver rimmed ones that my children's father and I received from
my uncle as a wedding gift and a rose patterned set that I inherited from my mother.
Neither set has seen much wear. Currently they are stored in a cabinet with packages of dry dog food. It has occurred to me that these sets of good china will find their way to a thrift shop after I die. Or, if one of my children decides to keep them, they will either cycle them in for daily use or, like me and my mother, hardly use them at all. And, if the latter, will they be passed from generation to generation as valued heirlooms? Would those progeny who'll never know me be burdened by such an inheritance, especially if the memories of multiple ancestors were carried forth by such possessions? Or perhaps there would be the war of the plates, the hapless progeny fighting over the ancient soup bowls and coffee cups finally caught up in a frenzied battle. My imagination runs wild. My children have grown up in a disposable society. Ben and his wife got as wedding gifts more good dishes than they can use in a lifetime. The dishes I have are not of their style. Rachael finds too much enjoyment in living life to take on the mind-set of The Good China psyche. She'd toss the silver rimmed plates into the dishwasher and shrug when they got chipped.
As I've played out these various fantasies, I find myself saying, "Why not?" Perhaps it's time for me to start enjoying what I've guarded to the point of disuse these many years. I'll start freely using the rose patterned set from my mother. I'll use the silver rimmed set at big family dinners and shrug if they get chipped or broken. I'll wash them by hand, though. Seeing the silver rims erode after a couple of tours in the dishwasher would pulverize me with guilt. I'd feel like I was stealing from the future.