When my mother was still alive, she handed me her set of “good dishes”. They were moving across the country, and she did not want to pack them all up. Her reasoning:” Since you are going to inherit them anyway, you might as well keep them now.”
I placed them in a top kitchen cupboard, where they collected dust and grime (like all things do in top kitchen cupboards). I barely used them, either I forgot I had them, and when the opportunity arose to use them, I did not feel like washing them first.
These dishes were not a family heirloom, passed down from a previous generation. My mother started collecting these dishes when I was young, not expensive like “Royal Dalton”, but simply bought at the local department store while we were living in Germany. The design is not of hand painted roses, but a lovely country scene depicting a castle on a high cliff, overlooking a river or valley. The color is difficult to describe, not sure if it is grey, green, or something in between.
For us kids it was great, because we always knew what to buy for birthdays, Mother’s Days and anniversaries, . We were all able to afford a cup and saucer, for the bigger items we pooled our money together to buy the soup tureen, the tea pot, coffee pot, and the large serving platter.
This set even includes the shallow German tea cups. We lived in Ostfriesland, so we drank Friesian Tea, which was a piece of art in itself. First you placed a Kluntje (crystallized sugar rocks) in the cup with special tongs. You then poured over the strong brewed tea enjoying the crackling you heard as the tea hit the Kluntje.
When the cup was half full, using a special spoon, you poured double (heavy) cream around the inside edge of the cup creating clouds in the tea.
Even though you have a small spoon on the side of your saucer, you do not stir the tea.
Then you began to drink. The idea is that with your first mouthful you experience the creaminess at the top of the cup; then you have a bitter, refreshing mouthful; and you finish with a sweet hit from the tea containing the sugar crystal which has by now largely dissolved. Then you start all over again. It’s considered bad form to have anything less than three cups . Your host will continue to fill your cup until you place that little spoon from your saucer into to your teacup to signify you’ve had enough.
Back to my dishes.
When many years later I purchased a china cabinet with our new dining set, these dishes were washed and proudly displayed for everyone to see. Once a year I would put them through a china cycle in the dishwasher, so they were clean and shiny.
Did I use them more often? Not really, I don’t really know why. Maybe the fear of breaking them? Maybe I was not comfortable using them?
Since Julie and I started “Seasoned Saturdays” together, my mother’s dishes have become a tool to bless others, to make others feel special. How does it make you feel, when your host brings out the best for you?
Some cups have aquired a few chips, however, that certainly does not prevent me from using them.
I will pass these dishes down to my kids (if there are any left, that is), and I hope they will use them to bless others.
Use the tools you have been given – talents, gifts and even material things to bless others. Don’t hide them away in a cupboard where they collect dust, use them.