Friday, October 18, 2013
It's official! I stopped in my tracks when I checked the beep on my phone and read the email. Good news Debra it said. The Singing Lady has a cheque for you. I always enjoy these emails from this consignment shop. "We sold your China". Last May I took all my fine china, crystal and depression glass collection to this shop hoping to unload these items. No one I knew wanted it. They either had their own ill-chosen sets they dusted off every Christmas and Easter or their tastes had changed, their entertaining had become less formal (the latter most likely) or they loved their china and would continue using it until it was passed down to their heirs.
My daughter was completely disinterested. She does not even want to own a house. She claims she prefers a smaller, more low maintenance space. A condo will suit her one day apparently. She has never been one for fussy formal table settings although I do believe she is comfortable in formal dining situations. I did teach her basic etiquette. It is always a handy skill in the work world at the very least. I don't have to worry about her embarrassing herself should her future partner's family judge her knowledge of which fork to use. (Gawd help her if she chooses someone whose family is like that!)
Anyway, it feels like a seriously symbolic moment for me. One of the last bastions of my former life has been passed along to a new owner. The baton has been handed off. I think back to the girl who chose that China all those years ago. It mattered to me. I was careful not to pick anything too bold or flowery. It was all white. Unfortunately, at the time I was very drawn to Victorian period design, so the edges were embossed in a raised garland of small roses that turned an otherwise timeless plate into something fussy and overly feminine. I used to occasionally pair it with the pink depression glass and it did make a spectacularly girly luncheon splash. It also worked well at Easter with all the pastels but just as my lifestyle has changed, so has my taste in crockery. I would never choose it now in a million years!
The money I got for it was criminal compared to what was paid for it. I can't dwell on that though. I am just glad it is gone. I don't have to retrieve it from the shop, store it in a basement somewhere for the rest of my life. One more thing I don't have to worry about. I hope the new owner enjoys it. They got an amazing deal on it. It was in mint condition. Not a single chip or missing piece. Service for eight and all the accessories. Serving bowls, platters, cream and sugar, salt and pepper - the works. When I think back to the time I chose it all, I recall doing it because it was expected. I remember people saying - "You are going to register somewhere of course." Um, yeah, OK, sure, I am. Truth was, even then, it did not occur to me that it was all that necessary, but I got caught up in the rules, the proper etiquette for a young woman about to marry for the first time. So, I went out and selected Rosenthal China and Crystal, which was a little non-traditional (my first husband's father was German), no Royal Doulton or Royal Crown Derby for this gal...even then I was determined to buck the system a bit.
My first husband had inherited silver from his grandmother, so I had to choose something that sort of blended with the intricate ornate pattern of the flatware. I always felt the silver out shone the China...in a good way. But when he left, so did the silverware, so then I had to find a replacement. Not just for him. So, not long after, I did find both. Husband number two came along and within a few years, he was awarded a set of silver for 25 years of service with his company. Once again, I had to choose from a menu of patterns, this time matching the silver to the China. Silver is wonderful to look at but a royal pain in the ass to care for. For a time, my wonderful cleaning lady would take it upon herself to polish the silver for me, but even she grew weary of that chore. It was not uncommon some holidays for me to sift through the case looking for the least tarnished fork tines to set the table, always placing the most severely burnished looking pieces at my own place setting...no one would notice I reckoned.
So, once again, the silver set number two left with the second husband. There won't be a third set. My table will be set with stainless from here on out. No more polishing. No more special box to store it. Dishwasher safe. Worry free. Care free. Something simple and streamlined.
Not unlike the next third of my life.
Here's hoping anyway.