Saving Grandma’s China

I’ve written about my penchant for glass before – art glass, porcelain china, and depression glass. When we planned to sell our house and move, I worried about the china sets I inherited from both of my grandmothers. I have two complete, twelve-place setting china sets, one from each grandmother.

As a little girl, I remember many holiday gatherings at my maternal grandmother’s house. The table for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners was set with her china and crystal. My sister and I helped to set the tables after we were told to be “very careful” with the dishes. The table always looked beautiful. I was fond of the dishes.

When my grandmother’s house was broken up and she was placed in a nursing home, my mom gave my sister and me a choice of her china patterns. I chose the pattern I remembered best from those holiday meals. It is by Noritake and is white porcelain china with gray and brown accents and a pink rose. Each piece also has a gold rim.

The set I have from my other grandmother is also white but with tiny blue flowers and a silver rim on all the pieces. It is different and more dainty in appearance. I love them both. But, I have three boys. And, I know I’ll inherit at least one more set of china from my mom – who has not only a set from her mother but sets from her aunts as well.

As we talked to friends about our packing and moving, we were told that one of the local second-hand stores gets so much china that after they take it, they go “outback” and break it because it just doesn’t sell. I cringed at the thought of donating grandma’s china just to have it broken! What should I do?

I understand why it’s not selling. People don’t entertain the same way today as they used to. Life seems more relaxed and entertaining and is not as formal as it used to be. Families are spread all over the country, and even the world, so having a huge number gather for holidays might not be possible for some.

I worried because I wondered if my husband just wanted me to “get rid of the china” since I never use it. Or, at least I never used it in this house and we’ve been here 16 years. We don’t have a formal dining room, and probably never will again. As I said, people live differently now, and that includes us.

But, when it came time to start packing I just couldn’t bear the thought of donating the china or even trying to sell it. It was a link to my past, a link to happy family memories, and a link to something I really enjoy – glass. I’m also holding out for one more set. I have three young men, who will eventually have homes and families of their own. I wouldn’t push the china on them, but if I have three sets, each of them could have one – a link to our family’s past and a link to other ways of living.

The time will come, as it will with the depression glass I wrote about a few weeks ago, that I’ll be able to donate the china or give a set to each of my sons, sell it, or find some other way to get it to someone who appreciates beautiful glassware. But, the time is not now.

It’s all been stored.

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