WEDNESDAYS: Y'ALL COME SEE US SOMETIME - "USE IT OR LOOSE IT"
Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 9:06AM
Dean Driver

Allee Royale Dinnerware from RaynaudThis is the first post of my weekly feature on entertaining. Before I go into some of my favorite ideas for entertaining, I felt that I needed to share some of my strongest beliefs about using what you have.

Many of us have memories of our grandmother's china cabinets neatly arranged with beautiful pieces of china and crystal that was only used on very special occasions. And special could mean once every five years. It wasn't used everyday. Heaven forbid that it should get a scratch or a blemish or any other sign of being used. It wasn't even taken out when company came to visit lest a piece get broken. As a child, I often peered into this "look but don't touch zone" wondering why this stuff was so damned special. I mean they just looked like dishes to me. And, didn't we eat off of dishes?  In the south, we always referred to the things in this cabinet as the "Good" china. Today it is more often called "Formal" china. (By the way, I hate both of those expressions.) The idea being, that it would be passed on from generation to generation as a piece of living history.

In my first blog post, I talked about how the things that we use on our table become part of our own cultural and social history by creating memories. Well, how can memories be made if we never use the beautiful things that we have? Aren't those little scratches and blemishes from being used part or the memories?

Before I proceed here, I just need to get this off my chest: "Good" china implies to me that it has never hurt anyone, loved the crystal as itself and volunteered at a local soup kitchen. If this was "Good" china then was everything else we had in the house "Bad?"  And "Formal" china makes me think that I need to be wearing a morning suit to use it at breakfast. (Although those of you that know me can probably picture me wearing a smoking jacket  and ascot by the fire while sipping cognac from a Baccarat snifter) But when you get down to it, what we call these treasures in our cabinet is totally irrelevant. THE IMPORTANT THING IS THAT WE USE THEM.....Yes I was screaming that.

Some of you have heard me speak or seen me on television. The mantra that I always chant in full voice is that if we are lucky and blessed to have beautiful things in our lives we need to enjoy them everyday!

This is the point where I get bombarded with the same questions. So I have the answers. (At least until you send me more, please.)

"What if something gets broken?                                                       

It is true that things do break. I am of the opinion that "It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all."  (OK I admit that is trite, but so true in this instance.) If it breaks, you will always remember the good times you had using it and aren't those memories with friends more important than the item itself?

"But I want to pass it on to my children"

The harsh reality here is that your children will grow up to have their own taste which could be very different from yours. They will start their own collections. Unless you are having weekly Greek weddings and throwing plates on the floor, I doubt seriously that everything will be destroyed before it makes it to your children. And again they will have the fond memories of using these iconic family pieces with you.

"I have just that: partial sets of things that I have inherited. What do I do now?"

Not to fret. Working those pieces in with new fresh things is easy. I even have some uses for aunt Lulu's hideously garish china that she must have bought after one too many glasses of sherry. But this will be an entire post to itself.  So, stay tuned.

"But it has to be washed by hand so I just never use it"

The dishwasher will also be a topic for another post, but let me just say that I put everything in the dishwasher. I am not telling you to do this. You should always follow the manufacturer's instructions.

So far, I have been talking about the things that we may already have; the collections that belonged to our parents or grandparents or the wedding china you registered for 20 years ago and never use. But what about creating new memories? Memories that begin in 2012.

I think everyone has discovered a find in a store, a magazine or online that they just loved. Then, in the back of your mind you think, "But I would just never use that enough to justify the purchase." I want to challenge you to open up your cabinets, dust off the tabletop gems that you haven't used in years and think about how you can make them an active part of your table everyday and share them with your friends and family. Once you start doing this, you will not only be able to justify that purchase, but continue to contribute to your own virtual scrapbook of memories around the table.

 

Article originally appeared on Consilium Lifestyle Collections (http://consiliumlifestylecollections.com/).
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