Few have reached the age of 100 unblemished by time and circumstances. My life has now spanned over three generations, and there’s really no telling how much longer I’ll be around. They say I’ve never looked better, but I know the truth. I’ve faded somewhat, have a crack and a chip. Even so, I’ve been more fortunate than most.
Over the years a few mishaps have taken some of my brothers completely from me. Oh sure, they’ve been replaced quickly. The replacement of a piece of fine china is easy nowadays. But the replacement of generations of holiday memories – that’s impossible.
I’ve been lucky to be a part of a loving family, unlike some up and down our street. There have been arguments, arrests when we’re thrown in anger, and even divorces. All over who keeps us and who doesn’t.
It’s a shame. We were bought by people in love, and when we come out of the cabinet, it’s supposed to be a joyful occasion. Being split between two families during the holidays is difficult at best – for a piece of china.
Lucky, my family has stored me way up high in a place of honor and safety. When the cabinet doors are closed, no dust or dirt can get in. Funny, before I’m ever used, I still get washed and dried, as if I can get dirty behind a wall of glass.
Yes, over the years they’ve taken good care of me and still use me for special occasions, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas. Even though I’ve faded somewhat and have a crack and a chip.
After Thanksgiving 20 years ago, it was Bobby who dropped me. He caused the chip. I didn’t blame him though. I blamed that hairy vacuum they called a dog.
Only 5 at the time, Bobby tried to help clean the dishes when he tripped over the hairy thing. The dog started licking – first Bobby and then the floor. That’s how my chip went missing. That monster thought my chip was a morsel of food it had somehow overlooked.
My crack came five years later. Aunt Helen had never used a microwave before she placed me inside. After 10 minutes of baking, she reached in, pulled me out, and then dropped me like a hot potato. Since that day, I’ve been dropped many times, but luckily never broken. It seems the older I get, the more I can withstand.
The crack and the chip are just two of a thousand holiday memories that my brothers and I bring back to our family each year. I really don’t know why we’re not called upon more often. It seems illogical to be so cherished and yet only make appearances two or three times a year only to be packed away and forgotten again.
We could give back so much more if just called upon to do so.
And if by chance children, grandchildren or hairy dogs knock us over and we chip, it really doesn’t matter. The whole reason to have china is to use it, is it not? Why secure it behind glass and only pay attention to it once or twice a year?
One never does know what the future holds – if you’re a piece of fine china. There could be a robbery or even a fire and we could be gone forever. Along with all the memories we store.
So why not use us while we’re still here? Instead of years from now feeling bad because of the missed opportunity of the joy we could bring the entire family.
Throughout life even we human beings are going to receive our share of chips and cracks. They just give us character and memories – memories we can share with family.
Keeping fine china high up on a shelf behind glass to bring out and use only a few times a year is simply wrong. And just like that china, our loved ones should be cherished more often than just during the holidays.
Use your fine china every week and invite your folks over more often. You’d be amazed at the memories and joy both will bring.
[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, has been a firefighter for more than two decades and a columnist for The Citizen since 2001. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.]