I grew up around fine things. China, crystal, sterling flatware and holloware. My grandparents (and then parents) owned a jewelry store that also sold giftware and dinnerware.
In the later years, the bridal registries slowed down with the advent of department store and online registries and OMG TARGET! But over the 65 years our store was open, thousands of couples registered at our store for fine and casual china, crystal and flatware.
A lot of girls had sterling flatware or fine china handed down from a grandparent or parent, but most people wanted to register for their own. Great thought went into the decision. My grandmother would set their choices up as if they were being used on the big mahogany table we had in the china section. She would let them look at everything together, with different flatware, different crystal, different color tablecloths, everything.
Brides would spend sometimes hours in our store choosing just the right items.
I don’t have to tell you what happened to the complete 12 place settings they all ended up with (at an average in today’s prices of probably $175 per place setting) do I? It was placed nicely in a china cabinet for all to see, but never to touch.
If the china and crystal was ever used, it was at Christmas, Thanksgiving and maybe Easter. A romantic evening may call for it, but probably not.
The silver was meticulously placed in a tarnish-preventive box and taken out only to polish and for those holidays.
When I was about 8, Mimi (my grandmother) took me to the silverware wall and asked me to choose a sterling pattern. Yes, I was only about 6 months older than Henry is now when I chose the flatware I wanted for the rest of my life. Even when I was 8, I appreciated simple with deep engraving.
Old Maryland Engraved by Kirk.
My sister chose her pattern 4 years later when she was 8. Hers was more elaborate and ornate. She and I are so different. I would’ve never in a million years chosen what she did, but she still loves hers now.
Every year for Easter, our Easter basket contained a piece of our sterling flatware. Plastic grass, Peeps, some other crappy candy and a sterling fork. Or knife, spoon, tomato server, serving fork, ladle, etc. You get it. We cherished the candy more, though. I mean, what 10 year old wouldn’t?
Jason and I got engaged and I didn’t have to think long about choosing a china and crystal pattern. I’d picked it out a thousand times over… every time I was at the store working. It was always on the top shelf and nearly always in the center. Nobody ever picked the china on the top shelf. It was expensive. But in my opinion, it was the only one to get.
Pickard is a china that is made in the USA and in 1977 it was chosen to manufacture the official china used in embassies and other locations around the world by the Department of State. It’s been the china of choice for Presidents, Queens, Kings, hotels and the US Air Force. Obviously it’s good stuff.
I chose a pattern with a beautiful cobalt and platinum band on an ivory bone china.
Lincoln by Pickard.
I did give Jason the choice between two different Waterford patterns for our crystal. He chose the one I really wanted, mainly because it had the best highball glasses.
Kildare by Waterford.
So before I tell you about my big plan that a few other bloggers are going to be helping me spread the word about, I want to tell you a secret.
I use my sterling flatware every single day.
Yup. And there’s more.
I put it in the dishwasher and have every day since 1998.
I’ve polished it one time since then.
It actually looks better now than it did when I got it!
Catch your breath. One more.
I don’t even own a set of stainless.
Ok. So, what’s this plan I have?
We’re going to have #FineChinaFriday.
I hope you read that like I say it. You have to read it in the most Southern accent you can muster. Some of you won’t have to try too hard, I’m afraid!
What’s #FineChinaFriday, you ask? Great question!
On Fridays, I challenge you to take out your china and eat supper on it.
You have questions and I have answers.
“But Jana, I’m having spaghetti (insert pizza, beans and rice, takeout Chinese, etc) for supper.”
But SuzieQ, spaghetti tastes so much better on china and with a sterling spoon. And we ALL know wine tastes better in real crystal. I’m very serious. Your bland spaghetti will taste so much better with your fancy stuff. I promise.
“Don’t I have to hand wash all this?”
You can. Manufacturers say so. I don’t. My grandmother never did. My fine china with a platinum band goes in the dishwasher when it’s used.
The trick is (pay attention) to leave it in the dishwasher until it’s completely cooled down… like a few hours or overnight. The gold/platinum bands actually get hot enough to get soft so you want to make sure it cools down all the way to harden back up. This is very important. Your crystal and silver will be fine. I’ve tested mine for 13 years. However, I can’t be held responsible for any broken pieces. Do what you want with the information given!
“My husband thinks it’s dumb.”
Ask him right now if he thinks that it’s dumb that you likely have $2000 worth of china, $2000 worth of crystal and (if you have sterling) (holy crap this number is high) $5000-7500 worth of sterling in your cabinets that aren’t being used? Does he think THAT is dumb? I’m sure he does.
“It seems silly to take it out of the cabinet just to use one time.”
It’s possibly one more than it’s been taken out before. Just sayin’.
“Do we have to eat at the dining room table, too?”
If you want. Or at TV trays. Or just on your lap at the sofa. I recommend the dining room table because why not?
“What if the kids break one?”
Then buy a new one. No. I don’t mean buy a new kid. Buy a new plate. Or glass. Or don’t. If you don’t use it and only look at it, what does it matter? It’s just a thing. I promise. It’s JUST. A. THING.
Consider this your invitation, engraved on linen paper, to join us as we start spreading the word about #FineChinaFriday. Maybe we can make it a trend that others pick up on. Maybe it will take over the world and instead of Friday nights being boring for us old married folks with kids, we can put the fun back in it by being fancy!
So pull out a few pieces of china and crystal to clean it up. Polish some of your silver and get ready for Friday.
Don’t have fine china? Do you use paper plates? Use real plates instead. Do something fancier than normal. Enjoy it!
If you have a blog? Blog about it. (Grab the button up there)
Put pictures on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or Google +. Pin them to Pinterest or post them wherever. (use the hashtag whenever possible – #FineChinaFriday)
Don’t want to do any of that? That’s fine. Just get your fine stuff out and enjoy using it.
Remember that a lot of people spent a lot of time choosing it and buying it for you. It’s a shame to let it sit and collect dust.
What are you waiting on? A special day? Well, make Friday your special day.