Guests make table memorable
Last updated 11/26/2019 at 4:19pm | View PDF
We sold Mom’s Spode Christmas Tree china set this week on Craig’s List.
“That wasn’t so hard, was it?” I asked Mom.
She pointed out that we had packed up the set over a year ago. She apparently needed a buffer year before being ready to actually sell it.
This got me thinking about collections. Mom’s Spode was not just a collecting event for her, it was a signaling of the holiday season for our family. But last year, no one noticed it was gone. What focused our attention was the fact that we had managed to get so many of us together at the same time. We were too busy enjoying our time together to think about the table settings.
One collection Mom isn’t getting rid of is the collection of some 25 clocks she inherited from her father. Over the past year, as she and I have begun a process of divesting ourselves from objects we’ve gathered over the years, we have made choices about what goes and what stays. Grandpa’s clocks definitely stay and have found a place of pride in the family room. Each child and grandchild gets to pick one out. This collection keeps Grandpa in our present lives.
I guess that’s why my kids insisted that I keep my silly collection of over 1,000 plastic windup toys. It wasn’t difficult for me to agree with them: I still love keeping my eye out for the ones I don’t yet have and delight in winding them up and watching them wiggle around. But as my kids explained, this collection stays because it reminds them of their mom.
“We’ll each get some when you’re dead, Mom,” my eldest told me, “and everyone will know how weird you were.”
With that (somewhat) comforting thought in mind, I understood that my windup toys and Grandpa’s clocks are totems — symbols of us. Why didn’t Mom’s Spode serve that purpose? Maybe it was the holiday theme: Mom is more to us than the holidays so the Spode wasn’t a good symbol of her.
Or perhaps it’s because as we all get older, the things that surround us lose their importance. It is lovely to have a festive table at Thanksgiving, but what we’re truly grateful for is the chance to sit at a table with people who mean something to us. Collecting those memories is what counts.
And I just had an awesome idea to use windups in the centerpiece!
— Beth Smits of Hinsdale is a contributing columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected]