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Things I Have Learned: What are we saving the china for?

Today’s Wisdom: Good attitudes are like fine china. They are nice to have but pointless unless used. Travis Hedrick

My wife and I recently went garage saleing. At one stop we found a beautiful set of fine china dishes. There they sat, for sale for just a few dollars with no takers.

I have seen these sets by the hundreds in antique stores. We have two sets of our own tucked away in the backs of cupboards, one we bought, one we inherited. I believe we have declined some other offers from mothers and grandmothers. We just rarely use them.

I suspect it is the same for many readers. It is hard to gather a family for a fine dining event. The kids have scattered. People in general seem to have less interest in entertaining. I also think there is generally less interest today in all things formal. We see it everywhere.

There aren’t many suits showing up in church anymore. The rule that all boys must wear ties at the school dances died 50 years ago. (I once actually got sent home from a school dance because I didn’t have a tie on.) And when we do entertain, the menu is more likely beer and brats on the deck than a formal, sit-down meal.

I must admit that I prefer the informal. I am more comfortable in jeans than a suit and tie. I don’t care that I really don’t know which fork is the salad fork in a formal setting. I also like the ease of just tossing the dishes into the dishwasher when it is over.

But I can’t help thinking we have lost something. One of the things I have learned is that old traditions developed for a reason. There was a reason we invited company, a reason we got out our best china, a reason for going to the expense and trouble of preparing a fine meal. Those things honored others. They created special moments in otherwise drab lives. They enhanced the dining experience and slowed the meal down, allowing for conversation. They created a unique moment, one that would be remembered in later years.

I may not rush to pull out that old china. But I will savor the memory of our family around my grandmother’s table on Sundays. I can’t describe her china, but I can describe the camaraderie of the family. They were good times.

If you are saving your china for the kids, guess what. They likely don’t want it. Why not just use it now? Maybe you’ll discover something you’ve lost. I’m just sayin.’

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