Using the good china

The other day, a teacher friend of mine came over for tea and lesson-planning  (school  starts next week.  Yes, really.)   As we planned the visit, I thought: I have a guest coming over!  This is a perfect chance to bust out the nice china!

So I did.

Here you see two of my many teacups, a teapot given to me at my wedding shower, and three of my random pretty assorted plates that almost never get any use.  The table runner is a vintage one that my mom gave me for Christmas a few years ago, one that had never before graced my table.  Now it has.

I can’t tell you how good it felt to use pretty plates and teacups for once.  With two active little boys in the house, the delicate feminine dishes don’t get much airtime.   I can’t really blame the kids, though; even when they’re in bed and I’m brewing some tea for myself, I tend to grab a mug rather than take the extra few seconds to find a flowery teacup and saucer. Efficiency wins out over poetry.   Dishwasher-safe wins out over hand-wash-only.

I’ve heard many women admit that their good dishes sit around gathering dust.     Maybe we have them so firmly categorized as “special occasion only”  that it never enters our heads to use them; we always reach for the ordinary dishes instead.   And yet china is meant to be used.   And who’s to say which days are ordinary and which days are extraordinary?

Maybe the answer lies in looking at each day as a special occasion.  In a way, it is.  I love being around people who are able to regard every day, no matter what kind of day it is, as a gift, a chance to be grateful to be alive.  It’s a spirituality that makes a lot of sense.  Even on the worst days, there is something to be grateful for:  a hug from one of the boys, the neighbor who stops to say hi, the roof over my head.  I am happier when I set the table of my mind with these blessings, putting them out there to enjoy rather than keeping them hidden away and forgotten.

Good china is meant to be used.  Every day is a special occasion.   Isn’t it amazing how easy it is to forget that?

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