It has been a busy time at the condo in the over 55 gated community I’ve been living in these past three years. I have said sad goodbyes to things I just couldn’t use anymore, and no one else needed. My wonderful family came over to help me pack up what I hadn’t yet packed into boxes or bags so they could go to Goodwill or to whomever had “dibs” on them. It made me feel really good to hear my son say, “You did a great job getting ready for moving this time!” I also enjoyed seeing it leave. My home was so disheveled that I honestly couldn’t think!
When my brother-in-law, his two sons, my sister, and her daughter arrived at 9am, I wasn’t yet dressed. However, I wasn’t slacking. I had set up two crockpots with chili for later in the day, and had just finished washing the dishes from the job. I hurried to dress, and we went to work just organizing what we were going to do. My sister is a whiz at doing that kind of thing, and it didn’t fail me this time either. She’s phenomenal at spacial acuity, too. She can eyeball a bit of furniture and be certain if it will fit into a space. Men will be spoiled with her, since the rest of us suffer from “let’s move it and see” first. And measuring? Psh! That’s a guy thing, lol. She’s also a wonder at being able to see order in disorder, so I leaned on her for the most help at first.
We set the brother-in-law to work on “tall person things.” Ok, that was after we set his youngest up to play some video games (out of the way), and his older guy to taping boxes for books and CD’s to go into. But he was great at just reaching up and getting things done that would have required me to get a step stool and then perhaps over reaching to do. He even spackled over an area that I still can’t tell was ever in need of it! Great job!
As the first group left, my sons and daughter-in-law arrived. By then the chili was really smelling more than delicious, and I was glad I’d made so much. Furniture left and I had 2/3 of the condo empty where it had once held “stuff.” Nice stuff, but still – stuff. The most wonderful part of the work was finding out that something I had valued was prized by someone else. Let me explain…
When I was only 19, I had just moved into my first apartment and had a decent job in a factory. My weekly paychecks were about $250/week. A full tank of gas only ran me about $5, though. My furnished apartment (remember those?) cost me $50/week in rent, so I had some money to spare, but not much. A salesman came through, and he was selling china, crystal, cookware and bakeware. Honestly, I didn’t think I was in the market for anything he had, but my sister/roommate and I wanted to be polite and see his presentation. He was good looking and we were primed and ready, looking back.
He ended up selling us starter sets of fine china, crystal stemware, waterless cookware, and stainless steel flatware (aka silverware, eating utensils). One comment he made stayed with me forever: “Don’t save the china for just those annual occasions like Thanksgiving or Christmas. Use it every time something special happens. It’s not worth anything as a decorative display. It’s not good china if it’s not used.” I took that to heart, and used mine at least 12 times a year. A whole month might have gone by without using it once, but then next month we’d have used it twice.
That china served up roasted meats, simple meatloaf dinners, spaghetti, and even hot dogs once. If someone won an award or something fun was in the air – the drapes were drawn during the summer months and candles were lit. I would set the first place so the children could match the set up around the table. We’d use both cloth and paper napkins as well as table cloths. We didn’t have much, but we could make it special with the china. Many happy memories are in my mind concerning the china’s days of use.
So, as we all prepare for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays – pull out that fine china! Lay out the cloth tablecloths and napkins – they wash, and with Oxy-cleaners, you won’t have to worry one bit about any lipstick or wine stains. Set up that table and let everyone know how special they are. Don’t make a fuss if something breaks – these are only things. We’re making memories here, don’t die with all of it on some shelf. USE it while you’re alive and have the folks near and dear at the table! If you don’t have any fine china – they have some really nice stoneware at incredible prices at the discount stores and even at some of the Dollar stores. Go for it :). I found a whole set of wonderful china at Goodwill once, and paid $15 for a set that cost over $600 to replace on the internet site that I could buy parts from. Check for extra pieces that will work with your partial set, there. I used clear dishes with my china when I needed extra plates or bowls.
Generally fine china is passed down to a daughter or other female family member. I had no daughters, and I saw that my daughters-in-law had different taste in china designs. I realized that the china would probably end up in a pile for Goodwill someday when I wouldn’t be able to use it anymore. So, I had decided to use it for everyday, doggonit! I gave away all the rest to my foster sister (keep up with me here – I have a LOT of family!), the weekend before, and realized that I couldn’t use it in the microwave (platinum trim on the edges) – so was pulling some “nuking dishes” back out of the piles. Then my eldest son called and said he really liked it. He and his wife had been looking at china not just for sale, but what other people had been putting out as “fine china” and he said nothing was on par with what my china looked like. If I didn’t want it, he’d really like it.
I don’t know how to explain it, but did you ever have something really wonderful that cost you a lot – but it gave back as much as it costed? That china cost me $500.00 back in 1973. It’s only missing four cups (doggoned little handles snap so easily), and two of the smaller plates. He got the crystal long ago, but I was so happy to pack up the china for one last time and send it home with him.
Images from Replacements.Ltd
I’m so glad that I didn’t wait to let them get rid of all of this when I’ve died. I got rid of most of it for them, and I got to see what they valued and that they got it to keep and use while I can still be around to enjoy it.
Moving day is the 16th, and I still have some sorting to do. Mostly, this is going to be sorting what will wait until I’m in my own home, and what I need while I’m working to get there. I can’t spend more than two hours at a time on the sorting. It just wears my brain down too far. So I take breaks and come back to the task with a better brain after some Facebook time, or coffee and television. Life here will be quiet, for sure. But the move will bring me to a nice town I am so pleased to live in, with a job to begin working at nearby I hope.
For now, I am listening to Christmas music on the Cable channel that plays music. I love it!
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