Thursday, January 05, 2012

The Good China

I'm going to be a little presumptious here, and talk about wedding gifts. Specifically, the notion of "the good china".

Simply put, I don't subscribe to the notion of keeping things for "best" or for "company", or whatever else. The problem is that after the stuff gets put aside, you then spend a significant amount of effort debating about whether to bring it out because so-and-so is coming around. Is this set of guests the ones that are important enough to warrant the good china? And if so, why them and not the people you had round last week?

The longer you wait before bringing out the good china, the greater the importance that becomes attached to it in your mind. Leave it long enough, and the good china becomes an almost mystical artifact, an heirloom of your kingdom, and to be treated with the utmost reverence.

Which means that when you finally do bring out the good china, presumably because the Queen has decided to pop round, you then get to spend the entire time terrified that it might get damaged.

In effect, what should have been a great blessing, and a source of joy and pleasure, instead becomes a source of stress and division, and then a terrifying ordeal.

I exaggerate, of course. But only somewhat.

My approach is the opposite - that these things are intended to give joy, and that they do that by being put to their intended use. That way, you can be reminded of the wonderful gift that your friend/relative/random stranger has given you. And when, as is sadly inevitable, it gets damaged/lost/worn out, well, at least you have the memories of having used the item well and properly. And not kept it carefully kept it "for best" for several years, finally brought it out of storage, and then dropped it at an inopportune time.

Ultimately, what I'm trying to get at is this: If you should find yourself giving us a nice gift, and you later find that we are busily using said gift, rather than laying it aside "for best", please don't be offended. It is not that we don't value and esteem you and your generous gift to us. On the contrary, it is precisely because we do.

1 comment:

Cap'n Ric said...

I subscribe somewhat to this approach, but with a slight variation.

I do not believe in keeping "good china" as something never to be used.

However, and I believe that this is the flaw with your plan, when I have dinner parties (as I'm sure you will!) I think it's nice to have my guests eating off of plates that all look nice (both look good and match) and are not broken (nor chipped).

The wife and I, on the other hand, can quite happily eat our daily dinners from plates that have small chips and don't quite match. It doesn't strain marital relations one bit.

So, we have a set of every-day use crockery that is not terribly expensive, never looked wonderful and has a couple of chips in a couple of the pieces. We also have a good set that is in the cupboard and only gets brought out for dinner parties.

Best of both worlds.

Couple of addenda. We are not shy about dipping into and using the "good stuff" if we've run out of the other crockery and the dishwasher hasn't finished! It's really not held in a state of reverence.

Once guests have been round to our house for dinner a few times, and we feel comfortable enough about it, they are promoted from the good china onto the other stuff. Generally when there's only one or two of them round. Larger gatherings tend to always use the good stuff.

The only difficulty with this, and it's not one that I've had to face yet, is what happens when one of the pieces of good china chips or gets broken. We probably can't replace it exactly. I suspect I'll have to match it as closely as I can.