Friday, November 21, 2014

Crackly China

Yesterday I went to go and pick up this old beauty.  
It has been in storage for several months because I didn't have a place to put it.  
It's an iconic piece from my childhood home.
I love everything about it.  
The rich dark color.
The small little windows on the front.
The drawers that always had candles and salt and pepper shakers and coasters from Switzerland tucked inside.  The warm, distinct smell it has.
The way it was filled with crystal and china that we pulled out for fancy dinners.

Last night, about midnight, this is what my kitchen looked like.
I was awake, unwrapping piece after piece of my grandmother's china (and some other iconic crystal pieces from my childhood).  
My favorite pieces are the ones that are like this, where the china appears crackly.

I lit candles on my mantle and had Christmas carols on as I worked.
It felt almost like a Christmas morning.
The hutch and the china take me to happy places in my memory: that china on top of a blood red tablecloth, and laden with all kinds of yummy.  
Holiday dinners and Christmas Eve morning breakfasts as we listened to A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, live from Cambridge, England.
Dad used his mother's set every time he prepared a fancy feast, and I can look at it and remember how he always talked with great affection when he spoke about his mom.

I look at it and I can hear beautiful music in the background, and smell any number of delicious things cooking: turkey, Dad's pork tenderloin with mushroom sauce, pies, bread, mashed potatoes, bread puddings.  You name it.
It reminds me of the holidays -- candles burning, Christmas trees lit up, a warm fire bringing cheer and warmth on a snowy night.
I see the little cut glass crystal bowls (pictured above) and immediately think of tapioca pudding.
I remember pulling out the dining room table and adding extra leaves to make room for guests, how we had to stand at opposite ends of the table and pull.
I think of us around that table -- plates laden with mouth-watering food, and all the hours of talk.
My family loves to get together and talk.
I hear us laughing or getting a scientific explanation from Martin or playing cards.

It makes me sad, but in a happy sort of way I guess.

I came upstairs and opened the curtains this morning and looked at the china through the glass, tucked away.
I looked around at my newly arranged front room (since the table was moved out).
I see fall on my mantle, but I've been planning all week for Monday---when Christmas will replace it.
I've got a wreath to make and decorations to haul down from the attic.
We'll go and buy our Christmas tree.
I'll have carols on again, long into the quiet hours at night, warm lights twinkling in the background.
I'll pull out more of my family's history with decorations that are as much a part of my childhood as that hutch.
Last night?
Those cream pieces took me to people I love, to a warmth that will never leave this heart,
to love and happiness and joy that will sustain me all my days.

(Next week I'll be blogging about a fall activity to do with your kids and holiday recipes. 
And, of course, about Christmas decorating -- which should actually be expressed like this: !!!! 
my heart.)

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