The holidays are fast approaching, and for many of us, that means a seasonal return to family traditions. Some of them may be great, some may be less so (fruitcake, anyone?), but they're all special when they're a part of a family's particular culture.
Holidays are also a perfect time for things that get handed down: stories, for example, and genetic predispositions. And dishes. The kinds of dishes that get used once or twice a year because, like orchids, they are pretty but particular. These are not the kinds of dishes that go from freezer to oven to table without breaking a sweat. And microwave or dishwasher? Perish the thought.
There are people who believe that fancy things shouldn't be saved for fancy occasions. They should be integrated into daily life so we can better love and appreciate them. I'm not typically one of those people. In fact, I really do have a tendency to save things for what feels like the perfect moment--knowing full well that sometimes, the moment doesn't come. I may have gotten this from my maternal grandmother. I remember once seeing a box of petit fours in her refrigerator. I really wanted one of those beautiful little cakes, but she had saved them so long, they were inedible.
This week, I made a point of using, and enjoying, dishes and silver that came to me from my family and my husband's. I drank my afternoon matcha latte from a gilded china cup and ate my meals from a variety of equally pretty, and impractical, bowls and plates.
The best part was being reminded of the people who used these things before me. Even if I didn't know them personally, I have seen enough pictures and heard enough anecdotes to feel the family connection. It really made mealtime feel more contemplative and deliberate in a good way.
The downside was the convenience, or lack of it. From hand-washing to avoiding the microwave, these dishes needed more TLC than I'm used to. And frankly, I still feel that using special things on ordinary occasions makes them less special. I guess I'm set in my belief that there is a time and a place for everything, which probably explains why I don't like year-round Christmas stores, either.
This week is a Leave It. But I'll see that silverware again soon, around my holiday dinner table.