This isn’t a conversation with Maga, but it is a post about family.
My Aunt A had floated the idea of her giving me her mother’s china. She described it as simple but elegant. Creamy colored with gold accents and a rose in the middle. Would I like it? Knowing these bare details was more than enough for me to accept. The only catch was that I had to go visit her to view all the pieces and make sure I understood what I was getting myself into.
HA HA HA HA. That’s the catch? A weekend with my aunt and her husband? Down south in the middle of winter? (Yes, in Boston, March is a winter month.) Sign me up for this most delightful catch ever!
The china was lined up on their dining room table in all its glory. And it was glorious. The rose shining brightly on each piece of Rosemary’s china. The cranberry hue of the crystal glasses and the various shapes glasses don’t come in anymore. The delicately painted dessert plates.
The weight of responsibility settled over me. I could admire its beauty but was I worthy of it?
Aunt A went through each piece telling me about them as best she could. Her mother hadn’t acquired it all at once, but rather piece by piece over time. The china pattern itself is still produced today, but the crystal is not, nor are the dessert plates. The history of the pieces was thick in the room. Then we went through gaggles of pictures Aunt L had scanned and sent over, taking care to fawn over the pictures (usually Easter meals) where the china and crystal ware were being used.
Hearing these tales of those who came before me grounded me and helped me to understand more about myself and who has shaped me.
A little tingle started in my heart as the plates began to come alive.
Throughout the weekend, we spent much time in her kitchen. My Aunt A is a whiz, you see, in the kitchen. Any meal, all meals, A+. I was happy to sous chef in hopes some of that greatness and fearlessness would reach me through osmosis. The skills and proper cookware and perfect kitchen layout have yet to kick in, but what did stick is the purposeful way she moves around. The confident way she handles each ingredient. The way she reads through the recipes beforehand as if they’re a juicy novel.
And the way she always thinks ahead.
In preparation for the weekend, she’d asked me what foods I like and don’t. In preparation for the transition of a family heirloom, she shared its history. In preparation for me continuing to grow into adulthood and self-confidence, she tricked me into being successful in the kitchen as she stood nearby. In preparation for the transfer of the rose china from one owner to another, we had a meal of epic proportions on them.
I’d been learning about all the other meals on these plates, but now it was time to create one more memory. They were done being stored away. They were accessible and now in rotation.
My heart nearly burst at the transition. At the continued generosity of my aunt. At the amazing flavors of the dinner we’d prepared. At the friendly faces next to me at the table. At the way the plates shimmered in the candlelight. At the contradiction of super duper fancy china and regular silverware + glasses. At the thought this is okay to do it this way this is how I’ll use them this is me.
At the way these plates now felt like mine.