Summer is wedding season. Months when nuptial photos fill my Facebook feed, and a time when I take note of the china place settings in the glass-front cabinet of my kitchen. They make me smile. I too am a summer bride—married twenty-five years ago in August—so my joy isn’t because the gold-rimmed Royal Doulton dishes are new. I’m happy because I’ve found a new use for them.
On a recent and random Tuesday morning, I did something radical. I broke tradition and ate my morning cereal from a china bowl.
And I committed this act in my pajamas—plaid pants and a Ben and Jerry’s tee shirt—alone at my kitchen counter reading the Huffington Post on my laptop.
My mother had taught me to use my fine china only for occasions. “Save those dishes for ‘special,’” she had said when she was alive.
I had always added air-quotes to special. My mother’s definition of the word was a handful of yearly holidays like Thanksgiving or Rosh Hashanah. Not for Tuesday morning’s Honeynut Cheerios.
For the scores who believe as my mother did, I’ll explain.
There are several glass-front cabinets in my kitchen where my china is housed. Every day for years, I passed the gold-rimmed, cream-colored porcelain plates, bowls, cups, saucers, and serving dishes. They sparkled under the recessed lights, winked when the sun shifted around to that part of the house. They’re come-hither loveliness called to me. And yet I’d rebuffed their advances for ages.
In recent years, my life moved at warp speed. Often, I wasn’t the person hosting holidays, which kept my china tucked away year after year.
It’s something I’d long considered a shame. And a waste.
I’d wondered if today’s brides still registered for china. Recent wedding registries that I’d purchased from were filled with things like microwave safe dishes, every day cups and plates, Keurigs, blenders, Cuisinarts, and even garbage pails.
My girlfriends and I lamented how if we had a registry to do over again, china would never make the list.
Here’s my first confession: My initial use of china for cereal was born of necessity. All our regular bowls were in the dishwasher because my husband and I had forgotten to run it the night before. I could have simply pulled out a dirty dish and washed it by hand, but the china was looking particularly fetching that morning.
Now for the second confession: As I slurped in milk-moistened cereal, each new spoonful tasted better than the last. I giggled and the sound echoed around the kitchen and transformed an ordinary Tuesday breakfast into a happy affair for one. I think that’s pretty special, too.
Since then, I’ve made it a habit to use these like-new dishes in every day ways—a turkey sandwich for lunch on a Wednesday, a bowl of Alfredo pasta for a Thursday dinner, brown-buttered popcorn in the big soup tureen to watch a movie with my husband on a Sunday night. Now cups and saucers are for two scoops of Cherry Garcia.
The view of my Royal Doulton plates in the glass cabinet no longer makes me wistful, because now I take them out whenever I want. In homage to my mother’s advice, I handle each item with extra care, making sure not to chip or break them.
Using my wedding china is my new tradition and one that turns every day into a ‘special’ occasion.