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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The China Cupboard...

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".  

17 comments:

Gail said...

Oh, what a tragedy! It was also a labor of love having those pieces replaced adding another story to your tale of treasures.

Absolutely beautiful pieces.

yarnjourney said...

I can relate to your story. I am glad you were able to replace some of the pieces. I lost all my grandmother's china and many other things during the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

You do have many lovely pieces to enjoy now.

Carol L McKenna said...

Beautiful post and so charming ~ lovely china and cupboard ~ A Creative Harbor ~ artmusedog and Carol ^_^

VBR said...

Only material things they may be, but they represented love and memories for you and your family. So, to be heartbroken is certainly understandable. I am glad you have been able to replace some of the pieces and found new ones to add. I see Hummels and red transferware there too! (red transferware is my fave!)
Great post for letter c.

lemonverbenalady said...

It is only stuff in the end and it is you and your hubby and your family that's what's important, TO! Thanks for sharing. xxoo Nancy

Sharon said...

I totally understand your loss. I have a few things that have passed down the family line and although they serve no tangible purpose, I look at the piggy on my night table every morning and remember how special that was to my Mother. She passed away 6 yrs ago today so seeing it this morning, and knowing I'll look at it as I turn out my night light, well, I totally understand.

Barb said...

Oh Pat! what a story. I can't imagine your heart break. I'm so glad you were able to get replacement pieces. I'm sure the memory bubbles up when you clean the cabinet, which is lovely.
I had a 9 foot real Christmas tree that fell over one year crushing and breaking ornaments, some of them my grandmothers others from trips we took. I just stood there, struck dumb with loss.
Somehow we go forward and rebuild.
xx

Mimi said...

Ugh....I think I felt the pain that you must have felt that day. What a horrible feeling. I am so glad you have gotten to replace much of it and that you can still enjoy it today.

Pondside said...

Of course they are 'only things' but they are the things that we have left, aside from memories, of the ones who went before us. My heart sank when I realised what was about to happen in your story. What a loss! I can imagine that you approach the China Cabinet with some trepidation these days!

Kathy Felsted Usher said...

I'm so sorry! What a shame. We have pieces passed down from generations and I know how I would feel.

Debra said...

oh my so sorry / that was an awful accident for sure !

Maureen said...

I'm usually of the "it's only stuff" camp, but this would have made me cry, too. Glad you were able to replace some of the broken china. At least the memories are still with you.

Jesh St Germain said...

It's the memories connected to the "stuff" that count! Hope you've taken a load of pics from your china ware, so if something breaks you at least have the pics:):)

Sandy said...

I held my breath as I read this story and although it's a good story I'm truly sorry it really happened..
Wow!
We traveled around the world all my life and there was so much packing and breaking that there are no items like crystal or glass to pass down. My mom always told me, "It's just stuff" when we moved and she left it only to buy more in the next country...
I so enjoyed this story and hope your over that awful sound.
Sandy

Naperville Now said...

it is both wonderful and a burden to be the keeper of these things...I, like you, would have gone for a drive and kept going. How great that your parents were able to replace your treasures (at least, up to a point). That bouillon cup rocks, by the way!

Jenny said...

I always Cherished my Grandmother's China so I Can imagine how this felt for you...

Thanks for sharing this for the letter C...

Great post.

A+

Gypsy Quilter said...

Having just unpacked my mom's china, I totally, TOTALLY understand. My dad bought it in unoccupied Japan and presented it to my mom as an engagement gift in 1933. She gave it to me around 1986. I've used it 3 times since then. And have moved about 22 times since so it's been boxed up. Two weeks ago, I finally unpacked it, hopefully for the last time in my lifetime. Have a lovely holiday with all the memories that go with it.