Friday, November 25, 2016

The 50 Year Old China

I served our Thanksgiving dinner on it, which was its second use in 50 years.  It is beautiful ware tagged Johann Haviland, Bavaria, Germany.  (You can google it if so interested)  All of the various plates (dinner, salad, dessert, little fruit or ice cream dishes) as well as the saucers and footings for the cups are wavy and banded in platinum (of which I have my doubts, but ... if it makes them happy to say so ...)  In addition to table settings, there is a platter, a serving bowl, a lidded sugar bowl and a cream pitcher. 

All of this had been stored on the top shelf of a kitchen cabinet which is difficult to access.  First a step stool to the counter, then up, up on one's knees to very carefully lift off the plastic wrap that had covered it for the past 31 years that we've lived here (it was filthy) and begin setting this chinaware carefully down on whatever counter space that isn't already covered by said knees. 

I got them as a Christmas present from my mother in 1966.  I was bitterly disappointed; it wasn't what I wanted at all, but seeing my mother's happiness and enthusiasm for her gift, forced me to be enthusiastic, too.  This was one of those fortunately infrequent times when one says something nice, but is very definitely thinking something entirely different.

And this is why my mind was running in two very different directions.  My mother thought it was high time I was thinking about if not actually getting married.  At the ripe old age of 26.  She thought that if I had a "decent set of dishes" (her words) I might perhaps have a better shot at snaring "an appropriate" (see above) husband. 

My own view, given the fact that my weekly letters home (Kansas City, MO) from my apartment in Beverly Hills  always mentioned my forays into photography, the expensiveness of Nikon bodies and lenses ..thinking that the parents would be happy enough to further my back-up career.  By buying all of the above.

Let me take you back to the scene of tragic disappointment (mine.)  They picked me up at the old Kansas City airport - the approach interestingly enough came in low over a bluff which bordered the river and bomp! onto the runway end very nearly at the river's opposite edge.    Once at the house, I found the decorated tree dominating the living room with presents underneath it.  I ran a casual eye over two large, wrapped boxes addressed to me.  "Just the right size for a Nikon camera and some lenses," I thought joyfully.  In my glee, I was unusually helpful with getting dinner on the table. 

I drifted off to sleep, mentally listing places I wanted to immortalize via my brand-new Nikon.

Our family tradition is a good, hearty breakfast first and then the wrapping paper starts flying. 

And in my place, Oscar winning acting began. 

My poor mother was only trying to civilize me.  Happily, she died (age 87 in 1993) before she ever learned that I had served company a sit-down dinner on paper plates with her mother's silverware.  I'm glad she was at least spared that awful indignity.  I did please her when Richie and I married though.  She liked her sons-in-law better than her own daughters!  And I never referred to that china without calling it "My Nikon china."


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