Growing up in the seventies, my mother had a large china cabinet in the dining room of our house, filled with fine china, I think by the name of Royal something.
The massive buffet and hutch was the caretaker of all things rarely used but apparently required, I suspect on the demands of such magazines like Good Housekeeping, or Woman’s Day, both of which were regulars in our house. I think those magazines were my mom’s escape from the demands of living in Cariboo country and I never did get the point of investing so much time and effort into having all this china, only to have it sit in the cabinet 98% of the year. My family hunted, fished, grew our own food and hauled wood to keep us warm in winter. Why we needed china, I don’t know.
My mom said that one day it would be all mine and quite appalled at the thought as a teen, I declined. I just didn’t get it, or the importance of it to her at the time.
To this day, I still use the same set of dishes for eating regardless of occasion. The first piece of china I’ve ever owned just came to me recently as a parting gift at a neighbours 76th birthday in the form of a stunning tea-cup with royal blue designs. I don’t have matching serving platters and gravy boats, and what you’ll see in this house is a hodge podge of eclectic items from the thrift store and things bought on end of season discount from the grocery store.
And I’m quite happy about this,much to the amusement of some female friends who are decorating mavens. It works, it’s still very beautiful and I like it. But let me tell you why.
While waiting at the doctors years ago, flipping through a magazine, I came across a story that struck home for me completely. If memory serves me correctly, it was written by a woman whose mother was diagnosed with cancer, who went on to pass quite quickly.
Sadly,nearing the end of her life, she voiced regrets to her daughter that she had never let anyone use the china set she had collected for so many years. Fearing something would happen to it, she had steadfastly refused to use it for any event, preferring to save it for ‘that one special occasion’.
Well,that one very special occasion happened shortly after that conversation, and the china was finally used – at a large gathering of loved ones following her death, to celebrate her life.
The message is clear. Life is precious and unpredictable. Don’t wait to enjoy tomorrow, or next month, or next year, what you can enjoy today. Go ahead, collect fine china… but don’t let it sit in a cabinet unused. If you love it, if it gives you joy to see it, use it- don’t wait.
Funny enough when my parents divorced the all important china cabinet stayed with my dad in the home I grew up in, which tells me it really wasn’t all that important after all.
Now when family dinners are served here, the food generally stays in the kitchen,more often than not in the dish it was cooked in, and you serve yourself. Good luck on finding glasses that actually match. What matters to me is not the fanciness of the occasion, but the people and the feelings we share as we gather round the harvest table. I’ll decorate the table with colourful leaves gathered outside for free and ornamental gourds ( that’s a story in itself this year! ) but what matters is being together, not how pretty the plate we ate off was.
I try to live in the way of giving thanks for the small moments of gratitude that happen daily. Hot coffee and a warm house on a cold morning. Food to eat, a shower with scented body wash-a downright luxury to many. The smell of crisp leaves on a fall morning, to see the sun set and moon rise, how thankful I am to experience this. More than one pair of shoes, healthy family, lovely friends and colleagues. And after breaking my ankle recently, I’ve a whole new appreciation for our medical system and how minor of an issue this really is in comparison to the ailments of others.
In these ways, my life is rich, and I am thankful. Life is made up of the sum of the smaller parts and they add up to show you how very lucky you are, no matter how hard it may seem at times. Because someone, somewhere, would love to have the life you do.
I hope you have a safe, happy, warm long weekend. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!