We got new dishes last week. We are taking the older dishes out to make room. We’ll donate those. I like the new dishes, but moving out the old ones triggered thoughts and emotions, like highlights on a timeline.
In the late 1970’s, my parents purchased a set of dishes for me when I first moved into my own place after college. The entire J.C. Penney dish set cost about $35 then, and I was thrilled. My mom promised I’d never get tired of these plates because there was no pattern on them. She was right. As usual.
They served me well for years and years. In fact, when we moved into our current home in 1996, I donated most of the set that remained to create space in our cupboards. I have saved one plate, pictured above, for the sweet memory of that early part of my adult story.
This first set of plates reflected a change in status. I had finished college and was going to set up an apartment with a great friend in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. That adventure in independence involved a move eight-hour west, leaving my childhood home, my parents, and life in Akron, Ohio.
In 1992, I married Glen. We picked out a set of dishes. Our marriage has lasted twenty-six years, but our plates have not. We have two remaining dinner plates. One is pictured below. It is time to replace them. I remember picking them out when we were engaged and registering for wedding gifts at a local department store, the name I cannot recall, that no longer exists.
These plates also show a change in status. I was thirty-seven and we were starting our married life. After years of being single, I stepped into sharing life with my husband, learning to love him, and choosing to care every day. We’ve shared many meals and memories with friends and family over the years with these dishes.
Through the years, I collected random plates with the common color of blue. I liked the eclectic look of those plates. For me, they reflected diversity and unity around the table. The plates did not match, but they were each beautiful to me. That was a metaphor for those gathered around our table through the years. Each person is unique, yet beautiful. The shared meal represented a sense of unity in that time spent together with good food. This collection will now be donated to make room for the new dishes. They have served us so well, and even started conversations as people asked why they are different and don’t match.
My tastes have changed. Those plates were fun for a season. Currently, I am drawn to certain colors that reflect the earth, sky, and colors of water. I want those echoed in our home as we refresh this 100-year old house for the season ahead.
The dishes below caught my eye online at one of my favorite stores, Crate & Barrel. They came in the colors I wanted. Rather impulsively, I ordered them. The first shipment arrived last week. I love simple design. We washed them and arranged them in our cupboards. And our old plates got bumped out.
Did you notice they still don’t all match?
It is time to box up and donate the old plates. It surprised me, however, when the moment came to do that, I felt sentimental. Plates and table settings are a form of self-expression and art in the home, as much as they are a practical tool.
I wonder who we will share meals with using the new plates. I look forward to seeing the good food presented on the plates to nourish us, slow us down for conversation, and share time with others. Our small group* met at our house for pizza and encouraging, thoughtful conversation last week. They were the first guests to use the new dishes.
I’ll schedule a pick-up with the Salvation Army. They will drive to my home and get the box of old dishes from my front porch. They can then sell them in their thrift store, support their community efforts, or give them to help others rebuild their lives. I feel happy about that opportunity as I send the dishes off. If someone else will enjoy them in their own home, it is time to share. When more people benefit, everyone wins.
The plates I selected are the pale green, dark blue, light blue, and white colors in the Hue Dinnerware Collection. These are calming colors to me, from the cool color palette. These colors reflect the sky, grass and trees, and the variant hues in the water found in rivers, oceans, and lakes. I love being outdoors. These colors are one way of bringing the outdoors inside.
We’ve got two each of four colors to mix and a match. I couldn’t decide which color I liked best. So problem solved!
Meals with loved ones can be sacred moments. For me, it makes me think of God’s provision in my life. The soil, wind, air, water, and sun all contribute to good foods. I Farmers and ranchers work to bring food to market. Having enough to eat is a basic need and I cannot provide all that alone. That turns my heart toward God, who I believe sustains me and food is a gift.
Slowing down around a table to eat, taste, share stories, and connect with another — these are essential moments in the day to sustain our spirits. A good meal engages all the senses – sight, sound, smell, taste, and we feel textures on our tongues. Shared meals are important to love, to community, to acknowledge there is enough, and see how we depend on one another to get food to the table.
For those of you who spend time reading the Bible, you may have noticed how many stories and images center around the table. Even communion with bread and wine, happens at a table with a group gathered for a celebratory meal. I love those images.
So dishes are practical tools, but the life that happens around dishes and meals is not to be missed. It’s time for new dishes and more memories in our home! May your meals be meaningful and enjoyed throughout the days to come!
Stay charming, my friends!
*A small group in this context is a group of eight friends that commit to meet together most weeks for support, friendship, and accountability as we learn to live as better people for a better world using Christ’s example and the story of restoration found in Scripture as our model. Our small group eats dinner together as part of our rhythm of sharing life. We have met together since 2008. This is a high priority for me as I navigate life with others who offer a safe space to talk, question, and grow. And eat!