In the days leading up to the holidays, it always means a flurry of cleaning actitivity. First off is to head into the dining room. The horizontal logs above the shelving that surrounds the entire room are hazy with summer's dust and everything needs a good wiping down.
Once the logs and all the bowls, boxes, ephemera and even a basket of bears are dust-free and spiffed up, my attention turns to The China Cupboard. It looms at one end of the dining room and begs for a total cleaning.
You could say, I am the keeper of some of the family china. Pieces that belonged to our grandmothers, great aunts and my mother-in-law are joined with cherished things from my own Mom who has decided it is time to pass them on. Oh, so carefully, delicate china cups are removed and set aside for washing. I still marvel at the hand painted bouillion cups that graced the table of my husband's grandmother so long ago.
The tiny demitasse cups and saucers that were also hers are complete with monogrammed silver spoons. They all must have stories to tell from a long ago age of leisure and graciousness.
My grandparents received these crystal goblets as a wedding gift when they were married in 1907.
There was a day a few years ago that caused me to wonder if everything was in a safe place.When we moved into our new home, I had never had a china cupboard before and with great anticipation I looked forward to filling it. The delivery men brought it in from the truck and assembled everything with us assuming they knew what to do. We did not notice how the glass shelves were supported and did not question the left over brackets they left in one of the drawers. Over time, boxes were unpacked and lovely items were placed on those glass shelves with our own 8 pieced wedding china set stored on the bottom wooden shelf. It came around to seasonal cleaning, and I started to remove things from the top shelf first. As in dreams, we don't recall sounds, but there must have been a tremendous crash as first the top shelf gave way and then the middle one and finally all of that falling onto the bottom shelf. I don't remember or have chosen to block the noise. I do remember staring numbly at the hundreds of broken pieces both inside the cupboard and those raining down around my frozen feet. This could not have happened...our wedding china smashed, my aunts lusterware luncheon set, a delicate decanter that belonged to my Grandmother - the list went on. My mind just couldn't take it all in as I retrieved an empty box and dustpan. The floor was picked up and I could do no more. My husband didn't know what to do or say to me - taking my car keys, I simply said - "I am going for a drive." We live in the country with many quiet back roads so I did not present a danger to anyone while my head tried to clear. Eventually, I returned to the house and began to literally pick up the pieces. With a heavy heart, I called my parents - Dad had treasured Grammy's china too. But my Mom calmly told me to make a list of the wedding china and we would work on replacing it. Nothing could be done to replace the antique glass and china. Despite the often uttered words - "it is only a material object" - it is the memories that float up as a special piece is held in one's hands. That is what hurt so much. Years have passed. New glass shelving is in place and correctly held with All the brackets. One Christmas my Mom and Dad presented us with a large box containing replacement pieces for our china. I was able to locate some lusterware luncheon plates and cups in the same pattern too and they have become my Aunt Ruby's again. I have been entrusted with other pieces since then and continue to be the keeper of the family treasures. They are enjoyed on special occasions and oh so, carefully cleaned...waiting to be passed on to the next generation...
I still hold my breath when it comes time to clean The China Cupboard...
This posting is linked to Miss Jenny's Alphabe-Thursday where the letter of the week is "C".