If you're like me, you've got cupboards filled with dishes. They are a necessity. Everyone's got to eat; for that you need dishes. I own a set of those colorful dishes. You know, the ones that make you feel like you are at a Mexican-themed party. We use them on Easter, because they coordinate well with colored eggs. When we take the dishes out, they are dusty, even though they are stored in the cupboard. This year, we were out of town for Easter, so I didn't get a chance to dust my colorful dishes.
I own another set of dishes. These are ruby red. The glass is transparent and the light flickers through and casts a crimson shadow on our white tablecloth. Red is a good Christmas color, so we use these dishes then. Except we are always too excited at Christmas about gift giving and present opening to eat a real sit-down meal. The red dishes don't get much use on Christmas or any other day of the year.
I own a set of china the real deal. China is for special meals, like Thanksgiving. We could use our china on Thanksgiving, except our dishes have some sort of fancy gold detailing preventing them from being dishwasher-friendly. Who has the energy to wash dishes after eating turkey what with the L-tryptophan and all? The china sits in a cardboard box in the basement. We've moved it along with us from house to house (four so far); the china has yet to leave its box. The dishes we use for everyday are plain white not festive or made out of a fancy glass that casts colorful shadows. They don't have any metal trimming preventing them from going in the dishwasher. They are chipped and cracked from years of use.
During the last two decades they've held meatloaf and meatballs, pizza and pot pies. They've been home to my cooking "experiments" and have hosted more than their fair share of "fancy chicken" the term coined by my kids to describe any dish containing chicken breasts and canned cream of whatever soup. Our white plates have felt the weight of birthday cake, cheesecake and strawberry shortcake. They've held midnight snacks and early morning breakfasts. Our white plates stayed with us through it all: baby food to caviar. (Not so often the caviar, but it sounds very adult, doesn't it?)
When my kids grow up I suppose they will remember the white dishes a veritable tabula rosa at the dinner table. I wonder if white dishes other than ours will elicit a feeling of reminiscence or maybe just pangs of hunger. We are hosting a party this weekend, and don't have enough dishes in any of our sets to accommodate the guests. Plus, who would want to wash all those dishes anyway? So, we are going with paper. I considered getting colorful partyware. My husband disagreed. "Go with something sturdy," he said. "It's all about the food anyway." He was right; you don't need colorful plates to have a fiesta just good food and good people.
So, after all these years of trying to use special plates on special days, I'm hit with an epiphany and one large conundrum. What am I going to do with all my dishes?
Jill Pertler is a syndicated columnist and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication" at booklocker.com, or, check out Slices of Life on Facebook. She works provides writing and design services through marketing-by-design.home.mchsi.com/.