Old Friends

I hadn’t even seen them, except in pictures, for more than three years.

And I wasn’t expecting to see them for several more months, at least.

You see, fine china isn’t a daily necessity a mere two weeks after moving into a new house. Especially when heirloom pottery was already unpacked. And even less so when there was no place to put complete service for 14 plus serving dishes and about a hundred teacups and a dozen mugs. Oh, and the soup spoons. And candle holders. (Did I mention my crystal? There was that, too…)

And we didn’t even have a place to put it. Our Boston apartment had built-ins that I used for china storage. So when we were browsing Ikea for other move-in needs (like a bed for our still-in-her-crib 4 year old?) and passed by a delicious bright yellow glass display cabinet, Taylor said “Annie, that’s a nice cabinet.” I only glanced at it briefly and agreed. But when he said “Your china would look great in that” I turned around and gave it a good look. Angels started singing and the cabinet seemed to glow.My blue and white china would look fabulous in this sunny yellow cabinet. Especially set against our new gray wall in the dining room. And Taylor let me get it, right then and there.

So after we got home and set up Macie’s bed (priorities), I began to assemble my new cabinet. I felt a little greedy. It wasn’t essential to setting up a house. We could eat and sleep without it. Why did I need to do it that night?I got my long-stored china boxes from the back of the closet and started unwrapping. It was so beautiful, all these delicate pieces. I loved the cool smoothness of each dish and the curves and the deep cobalt designs.

But so many. Minimalism was my motto the last several months while packing–paring down, culling, eliminating non-essentials. I began to think, “Do we really even need all these dishes? We’ve been fine for three years without any of this. Honestly? Chinese soup spoons? How often would we really use these?”

Then Memory crept in, quietly, into the corner of my mind. “Remember when your friend had a cold at Thanksgiving,” she said, “and you made him ginger tea in the teapot and gave him a matching cup? Remember when you fed 14 good friends a sit-down dinner when they had no where else to eat at the holidays? Don’t forget all the soup you shared in these three kinds of bowls. You used every one. And some of them broke, and you still had enough. And everyone was full and happy and content, and the bowls went into the dishwasher, satisfied to have been used.”

So as I unpacked and carefully arranged each serving bowl and stack of dishes in my new cupboard, I thought of our friends and family and gathering and eating and sharing, grateful for the memories. I closed the special soft-close doors on my China Cabinet and said a small prayer. Let this house–this new home of ours–always be a place where we can gather our Dear Ones. Let us not forget the reason we’ve been given so much.


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