When holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas come around my memory travels back to the family gatherings at my grandparents’ house, first on Baird Street in Corunna and later on River Street in Alvinston.
One visual that’s always stayed with me is that of my Grandma’s china dishes. The pattern is called Myott Staffordshire (England) and it can still be bought online.
The dishes have been in our family a long time and somehow were passed on to me to keep traditions alive, which has meant setting my table and serving family with these relics from the past.
People of a certain age may have already purged and downsized and de-cluttered and, if lucky, settled nicely in senior housing of their choice.
Some of us are still in the middle of this delightful job, trying hard to get past the nostalgia and say goodbye to possessions unneeded but still close to heart. Many have sold or passed on their fancy china, along with the crystal, silver-plate cutlery, and cups and saucers.
Today’s generation seem to have little interest in these treasures we once held dear.
I am attached to my own shrinking china collection. Each cup and saucer (and I did have close to 70) has a story to tell — where it came from, the meaning behind it, maybe who gifted me with it.
Some have made an appearance at a wedding or baby shower, but for the most part they’ve sat in a china cabinet for decades, waiting to be dusted. Some have been gifted and others sold.
But when I’ve set the table with Grandma’s dishes, my brother has a problem with them. It’s the dinner plates, specifically, which for some reason are more the size of luncheon plates.
“No wonder our dad and uncles went back for third helpings,” he has pointed out. “These dishes hold hardly anything!”
We’ve all had to agree. The dinner plates are unusually small and don’t hold much food. Back in the day, my uncles would arrange a pyramid of food on their plates, with the potatoes in the middle. A hole would be poked in the centre and the gravy poured in.
I can appreciate now why they had to fill their plates three times.
One day, with sadness, the old china dishes that graced our table and, before that, Grandma’s table, were packed in boxes and banished to the basement.
But next time the family comes over for dinner I may, just for old time’s sake, set the table with Grandma’s china again.
“You gotta be kidding,” I can just hear my brother asking, “Is this some kind of joke?”
Nadine Wark is a retired office administrator and freelance writer who live in Sarnia