It is not yet certain what is on the menu for Thanksgiving dinner. What is certain is I will use ‘some of the good china’ on which to serve it.

I don’t remember anymore how many patterns of china lurk in the cupboards at La Casa de Spo. All I know is we have heaps. The storage shelves are full up with the stuff. [1] When Someone and I moved in together, we each brought to the relationship our dinnerware. I had one; Someone had several. Whenever one of his female relations died it looks like he got their china. [2] There is his, mine, theirs – and ours. ‘Ours’ is a Spo(de) Christmas pattern which I drag out hohoho during the holiday season.

The Spo Spode-ware

I am of the generation (perhaps the last one) who believed having a sophisticated set of chinaware is a necessity. How else would one entertain twelve of your nearest and dearest on Sunday for family dinners or on Saturday night for those lavish gay dinner parties? Yeah, me neither. That sort of thing never happens. So the china sits, unused, in the cupboards, waiting for Godot. [3]

On the positive, we have lots of lovelies. Someone’s two main patterns are interchangeable to mix and match, while mine is a basic plate of bone white with a dark green border and a golden rim. Once upon a time I bought a soup tureen. It is as deep as Lake Michigan and quite splendid-looking, but it has never been used. Sometimes, out of whimsy, I fancy getting it out along with various other pieces, just to use them. Perhaps I could use the sugar bowl and cream set, or the salad plates. That would be fun – until I remember neither one of us uses cream or sugar and the fussy plates need to be washed by hand, which is tedious.

There is some sort of metaphor going on here. The everyday plates and cutlery- plain, white, and a bit chipped [4] do all the dirty work while the elegant stuff sits up high, unused and somewhat useless. I suppose we could get rid of it all, but who wants this sort of stuff nowadays? Goodwill has become snippety about donations of crystal, silver, and china. They could fill their bins with ours and others discards.

I haven’t yet mentioned the vast hoard of silverware we have, quite fancy with the initials of several dead relations engraved upon their handles. I’ve hidden it all away lest prowlers break in and steal it, but nowadays they go for electronics, not salad forks, and besides I’ve forgotten where I hid them. [5]

Admittedly it is fun to use the elegant items, these lofty but high-maintenance dishes. We may not be having an elegant meal [6] but it can be served elegantly – just this once. The other day I found a jar of mushroom gravy in the pantry. I don’t remember how it got there, or what it was supposed to be used for, but this would be a good economical food-push for next Thursday, lovingly served in a granny-ware gravy bowl.

I would love to hear from the Spo-fans about your china. Do you have some/any/lots? Do you use it and how often? Spo-fans of the female persuasion: how do your descendants feel about getting the family china someday?

[1] The cupboards in the living room area look like they are beginning to separate from the wall. Like global warming, we could do something about this before it is too late or we can wait until we have to, which may be too late. I imagine coming home some day to find them and their contents all over the living room floor, a horrible heap of broken china and glassware. One reason I don’t get on top of this pending disaster as there is a part of me that hopes for just that will happen.

[2] Someone once served dessert on his grandmother’s china to some business associates whom he had invited over for supper. His boss made the remark the gold-gilded flowery plates ‘looked quite granny’. It was less-than-tactful but it wasn’t wrong.

[3] Not too long ago an elderly relation of mine was bewildered her grandniece’s wedding wish list didn’t include ‘her pattern’. I pointed out the 20ish old young woman didn’t have any pattern as she doesn’t want any. Auntie was appalled. “Some day, all this will be yours!” say grandmothers to their granddaughter who probably cringe at the notion.

[4] Like my men.

[5] The Car Key Gnomes or the Cup Sprites have done a fine job here that even I can’t find the silverware. If I ever I find the stuff I plan on melting it down for the metal, while feeling horribly guilty in the process.

[6] It looks like dinner will be a simple bird with oh-so-practical mashed potatoes (we have spuds that need using) and some Brussel sprouts. I plan to make the sprouts kung-pao style. Food without spice is dull indeed.