Monday, March 29, 2010

The china dilemma

(The stuff you eat on. Not the country.)

A few weeks ago, Ryan and I decided it had been far too long since we'd seen my grandparents, so we planned a little visit. We brought the shuffleboard with us (a tabletop version, which we rocked with all the confidence of two twenty-somethings who love a game that was possibly invented in a senior center, thankyouverymuch), and we played the afternoon away. Turns out my grandpa's a pro--his team always won--and my grandma has a myriad of other lovely talents (her team never won...)

Of course when they got word that we'd be coming for a visit, my grandparents promptly invited us to stay for dinner. Which brings me to the point of this post: Because we were there, they broke out the china. Fancy plates with real silver utensils, no less. You'd have thought we were royalty.

It was so sweet of them. We knew they would have to wash it all by hand, and we knew they wouldn't allow us to help. They weren't trying to show off some kind of wealth or parade some high-class lifestyle. In a simple place setting, they were simply saying, "You are special to us."

And we did feel special. And then a little guilty. Because, you see, we had just returned the china we had purchased when we were newlyweds. The whole set. Because we never used it. Now before I incite some sort of riot, you ought to know that we did purchase another set of dishes, still very nice, but much simpler in design (see above). They remind me of something a potter might throw, and I love them. As in "I couldn't stop thinking about them after I saw them in Macy's and after months of dreaming, Ryan caved and I finally bought them" kind of love. The "I want to eat on them every day, so I do" kind of love.

Just about every day, I still tell Ryan how much I like our new dishes. But after that dinner with my grandparents, I wonder. Maybe we do need china to celebrate special occasions, like anniversaries or birthdays or special guests (like grandparents, or someday grandkids). Or maybe it's enough to eat on something that makes you feel special every day, even if it doesn't have the same effect on your guests.

What are your thoughts on the china dilemma?

13 comments:

Stew and Lindsey Campbell said...

That's a cute story :)

We don't have china either, just stoneware. I'm glad that, as newlyweds, we don't have more dishes to store or move. ;) I think china would be a good anniversary present, maybe 5 or 10 years. Plus, it seems like as newlyweds you spend the biggest holidays at parents' houses anyway...

Those are my thoughts :)

Bart and Kellie said...

My mom never used china (she had tons of plates that we used for different reasons but I don't think any were "China") I married into a very China loving family. So they tried to talk me into it, and I picked out plates from Target. 5 years later Bart made me pick real China, and he's since bought me 6 place settings. Is it expensive? Yes. But I LOVE THEM. We use them on birthdays, when we have loved people over (only 4 loved people, 5 and your not getting China). But I'm glad we've done it. By the time I'm Grandma's age then I'll probably have a whole set, but by then it will only be Bart and I eating on them. If you do it at least use them. Its ridiculous to have fancy dishes that no one ever touches because they might break. (you can also register them, so that if you do break one its only half price to replace it...) Just make sure its something you really like (and will like in 20 years and in 40 years). But it is a fun thing to have at some point... (China epistle finished.)

Lindsey said...

I always hated when my mom pulled out the fancy china, because I KNEW it meant doing dishes by hand that night. As a result, I have always resisted purchasing china. We just registered at Bed, Bath and Beyond, and when an employee suggested we register for China, we both just laughed. Nooooo, thank you. Maybe it's a generational thing. None of my contemporaries have fine china in their home.

Elisa said...

I think it is great to just have a nice set of dishes that makes you feel special. I think your Macy's selection is fantastic! I'd love a set of hand thrown dishes sometime, with bold color rather than traditional white china. I think someday I'll take a pottery throwing class and we'll make that our "fancy" set.

Alexis said...

Love the dishes you picked out! Personally, I don't think we'll ever spend the money on fancy stuff. When you have loved ones over put some flowers on the table. That will make them feel special and you can still use the dishwasher!

Shannon said...

I love your dishes! I do have china and the first couple years that we were married I questioned my decision to get it, but I really love it. It means that it's a special occasion. We set a fancy table for Christmas Eve, Valentine's Day, sometimes for special date nights, anniversaries, etc. I use it much more now than I thought I would. I also love having my crystal goblets to toast with at New Years and other special occasions. I do think it's something of a generational gap and a lot of people our age don't have china, but I like the throwback to tradition. You just have to come up with some other way to make the table setting special. A fun tablecloth, flowers, centerpiece, napkin foldings, etc.

Shewi128 said...

I agree with Shannon. My mother has 2 sets of fancy china--one for Christmas, and the rest for other holidays and special occasions. So, it was no question for me to get china or not. Yes, it is very expensive, and I often think how much money is sitting in our china buffet..

However, I think it's a neat way to show people they matter to you. Whenever my parents come to visit, we break out the china. Valentine's Day--china. Passover dinner--china.

Graham didn't agree with me at the beginning of our marriage, but he has come closer to being on my side of this argument.

Kristen said...

My mom bought us a china set from Costco, and it is sitting on a shelf in our garage, having been used perhaps once or twice. But I guess I like the idea of having it for Christmas dinners and other stuff down the line.

The real silverware, however, is something that will always make me think of grandma. Her brand of care and attention is a dying art... That's so sweet of you to go over and see them--I'm sure it made their day (or week).

dajacreations said...

I wouldn't worry about getting china. It isn't practical in my opinion. Plus you can spend the money on other good stuff like Bowling! :)

Shar said...

i really like the idea of china, but i don't want to bother with storing and moving something so breakable for years when it's hardly used. i might rethink it once we're not in "moving now and again in a few months and again in two years" mode.

But oh my gosh - i love your dishes! those are awesome. i would feel very special using those at your house, especially if ryan cooked one of his famous meat meals. :)

lisa said...

I'm loving all the input here! I think for now we will probably stick with flowers for the table (thanks, lex) and await the day when we become a more stable couple (as in residency, not emotions--thanks) to think about china again.

Tara said...

Yep I agree. I'll get China when I can 1. afford it and 2. have dinner guests that aren't almost always accompanied by toddlers and babies. I think it's special, too, but definitely something I can wait for until I'm a little older.

Houston + Amanda said...

We had the same dilemma after we got married. We... I mean I... picked out the nicest china. Then we gratefully got a few sets but realized how much we needed other stuff.

My thoughts... get something nice when you've "settled down". If you know you're in the house you'll be in for a while.