Sunday, March 8, 2009

Nana's Dishes

It is
to think of
and the
things they
about us.
My Nana, even though she had trouble showing affection towards her two grand- daughters, liked to talk. She told great stories of growing up in the roaring twenties, the Great Depression, the two World Wars, the June Cleaver days of the fifties, the sweeping changes brought about by the sixties, and the self indulgence of the seventies. Through her detailed stories, I felt like I was able to know a little bit more about the era that she lived in before I was born. People of her generation saw so much change. It is difficult for any of us born later to understand just how much their world had evolved by the 1980's. We will have our stories of technology of course, but I somehow feel these will pale in comparison to that of being alive when the first car roared to life, or the first television broadcast was aired in America's living room. My Nana, in many ways, treated me like a little adult. So what I remember about her a lot of times is sitting at her dining room table as part of a larger conversation of adult family members. Christmastime brought a yearly tradition of Nana making lobster thermador for our family. It was mouth wateringly warm and smelled so delicious after coming in from the cold winter weather of the Great Lakes region. It is, perhaps, Nana who first cultivated my lobster affection. Her special china was brought out on those occasions. But more often than not meals were served on her everyday Franciscan stoneware dishes. They were hefty, kind of feminine, and food looked so nice on them. When Nana passed away in the later 80's, I knew I couldn't bear to see the dishes disappear. I asked my mom and dad to box them up and save them. They went with me to Florida and I used them every day in my twenties. As it happens, a piece broke here and there, and I would be heartbroken. I found the good people at Replacements Limited, and then later the good people of Ebay, and my pieces could be replaced. I purposely tried to forget what was broken so that later on I wouldn't know which was originally Nan's and which was replaced. That practice has kept all the pieces very sentimental. One Christmas my husband bought me a locally made set of beautiful glazed dishes and Nan's Franciscan was packed up once again. I was sad about this but I was also deeply distressed about the accidental breakings. And then one afternoon after we had moved here to Hawk's Run, I was leafing through some writings about my beloved Tasha Tudor. Her heirlooms were hundreds of years old, and she was asked about all the chips and repairs necessary to keep them in usable condition. She stated quite flatly that she would rather see a thing used and broken than packed somewhere in a box never seeing the light of day. I had a nagging feeling of guilt. Now, two years later, I realized I needed some replacement dishes in our glazed collection. They are incredibly expensive and I just couldn't justify it right now. There is no time like the present, so I lugged up the three huge and heavy boxes belonging to Nana. Now newly washed and nestled in their cabinet they are bringing a smile and a flood of memories to me once again. My husband was stunned because he worried about them being microwaved and put into the dishwasher. No problem I said- they are safe on both counts. Shocking considering neither of these appliances were around when these dishes were made some 85 years ago. The only flaws they have are on the teapot. The lid was cracked and repaired and the spout has a small chip. I was never able to find a replacement. No matter. I'm just so glad they are back at our dinner table. Like us humans with all of our flaws, I love them anyway.

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