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My Blog

the Story Behind China Dishes

Good morning to all. I hope your week is going along swimmingly...hmmm a dip in a pool sounds good about now.  The weather they say, is going to cool down somewhat.  Amen. Today , I must congratulate the Royal couple on the birth of their new son yesterday.  May he have a wondrous future! 
Now on to today's story.  I decided to write about China  dishes because there has been such a change through the years with dishes.  There are so many beautiful designs and colors.  I recently hosted a Red Hat event called President's Wives.  Now first...to those of you who may not know what Red Hat is...we are a social group of women who are 50 and older who wear red hats and purple clothes.   Your next question, I am sure is what is comprised in hosting an event called President's Wives.  Well, I took pictures of my ladies in the group and matched their faces as closely as I could to one of the American Presidents wives.  I got them recipes that were actually from that presidents wife and had them make it for the dinner.  What does it have to do with China you might ask?  Well, through the years at the white house the presidents wives had their china.  So, I decided, the a week before the event, I would have the ladies each bring me one complete place setting of their China to me for their place setting at the table.  It was a fun idea and I totally enjoyed setting the table using their individual china sets for their placement.  It was amazing that we had 10 totally different china patterns at the table.  I coordinated them with chargers and the table never looked more charming!  Now, at the dinner, before we began to eat, each woman had to tell us the story behind their china.  One girl brought her mothers china that had been hand painted, another brought her set that was given to her by her mother as a wedding gift 50 years ago, one set was brought home as a gift from her fiancé from overseas during war time, one woman described hers as a set she loved and purchased over time. One after another the ladies shared their stories behind their china.  One girl doesn't cook ...she never really thought about china. so her everyday dishes are what was used...but the beautiful pattern she choose was to match her kitchen.  My china was made by Noritake. 
I remember working at Weibolt's at Harlem and Irving  in Chicago during my engagement.  I spotting this one beautiful set of china that was green with gold trim.  I remember that I purchased it on lay away.  I paid a small amount at a time.  Funny how I choose green...it was because that was the color I was painting my dining room at the time.  Well, to my surprise, at my bridal shower, my mother had gone and purchased all the china for me.  .  Well, I used the china all the time for every gathering....and believe me,  I had quite a number of them.  At the beginning of my married life, I had this China cabinet...in fact it is still the one I still own.  I was setting the dining room table for a dinner and had the china cabinet door open.  We lived on Central Ave. in Chicago.  That is a main thoroughfare...and all of a sudden, a truck must have gone by and rattled the house, and before I knew it, the dishes came spewing out of the Cabinet.  One at a time, CRASH! CRASH! CRASH!  before I could reach the door and salvage what was left.  I remember just standing there, crying like a baby.  My dishes in a million little pieces...I was devastated.  I already had children and not a lot of money at that point and knew that they were irreplaceable.  But in came the SUPER MOM...to the rescue!!  My mom went and got the missing pieces for me that Christmas.  There I was, surprised all over again. 
Now as the years went by, I used those dishes over and over again.  Often times, china is just used for show...that has never been my motto....if you've got it, USE it.  This went on for years.  As I went from home to home the china was moved and placed in the China cabinet and used.  Well, they could only get used for up to 12 guests.  When I started to have big parties and showers and things as such, I had gone out and purchased 100 glass plates at the
dollar store.  I hated using paper plates...they never hold up...it is a shame to spend all that money and then through them away...and over the years...how much I was helping the environment in my own little way.  I began then purchasing different colored chargers to place underneath the plates and could change the whole look of the tablescapes that way.  Well, when the green china no longer matched the room...it went into the reds and yellows...green china wasn't the best choice for the table.  I set a fancy table almost 2 times a month for a while.  My china just sat there...in the cabinet, probably like a sad puppy looking at what had replaced them.  I finally decided to pack them away.  Perhaps someday one of the Grandchildren will enjoy them.  Then came the president's wives event and I had to dig out a set.  It was like seeing an old friend all over again.  Remembering the story behind them and all the dinners that they had sat through. Not to forget the regiftings from my mother. 
China, I had decided, had stories to tell.  Even if we don't live in the white house!  I know that when my daughter was getting married...she had always loved her grandmothers grey/white and silver china, so my mother-in-law gave it to her...it was a place setting for 8..unbelievably, I found a matching set of 8 in a small little shop and her grandmother purchased that as well for her shower.  She now has a place setting for 16...which we thought was great since her husband had a huge family.  Since they have moved away, the families don't get together for occasions, but I guarantee you, every time I am there to visit, the China comes out.  I purchased some silver chargers for her to go underneath them.  It means so much more to sit down at that table and revisit with the china.  It is almost like having my mother-in-law there with us. 
Sometimes, we may think that setting a table isn't all that important, or that perhaps no-one notices, but trust me....they do. 
If my China could talk...it would tell you stories of when grandparents gathered with me around the table.  It would talk about the first disaster turkey made that was placed on its beautiful face.  It might share with you the Holidays like Christmas and Easter and Thanksgivings.  It might tell you about the children who learned an etiquette lesson with them, or perhaps the special birthday dinners that once sat upon them.  The gravy bowl might laugh as it tells you it was there, but was accompanied my a large pitcher of gravy as well.  It might tell you a story of a Thanksgiving dinner put together in an hour unexpectedly, or a romantic dinner for two.  Whatever it might tell you....the China carries with it a lifetime of love around the table.  I hope your China has been through as much as mine...and if it hasn't...there is still plenty of time. 

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