Friday, November 22, 2013

Practical Gift-Giving

When I graduated from high school, my grandmother gave me a set of china. Plates, smaller plates, serving dishes, sugar and creamer set, gravy boat—the whole kit and caboodle. They’d been having a promotion at her grocery store. For every certain amount of money spent on groceries, you’d get stamps, which you could then save to purchase items in the set. Buying only for my grandpa and herself, I realize now it must have taken some time for her to get enough for the set. Maybe she could have paid for some items if she didn’t have enough in stamps.

My eighteen-year-old self thought it a strange but nice gift. I didn’t even have my own set of Tupperware yet, and I didn’t plan on hosting any elaborate dinner parties in the near future. But the china has been with me ever since. My husband and I have moved many times in the twenty years we’ve been together, and those heavy boxes always came along, from apartment to condo to house, up elevators and stairs, into storage and back out again. And I have to say, it’s always been a matter of pride, that china. When I was a younger adult, it made me feel like a legitimate grown-up, someone who really could start an adult life and settle into it. I still love the pattern, which seems to suit me. Whether it’s long-term familiarity or a matter of taste, I don’t know.
The china gets used maybe once a year. Holidays, usually Thanksgiving or Christmas. But I have a baking dish that is put into use much more frequently. It’s a simple, clear-glass Pyrex dish, also from my grandmother. She gave it to me in the last years of her life, when she started shedding things she knew she wouldn’t use. It had a sticker on it, an address label she’d put on so that she could find her dish when she attended potlucks at her church or mobile home community center. That sticker pained me a little every time I saw it and when it finally wore off, that pained me too. But I still think of her every time I use it.

I have her old crock pot, a behemoth with only three settings, decorated with pictures of floating vegetables on a white background. My sister has a new crockpot with a timer and complicated dials, but this one has always served my purposes. I have a single-serve teapot with a cup that fits on the top like a lid. I have a set of plastic cutting boards that my grandpa bought at the hardware store he liked to visit almost daily. I think my siblings also got these for Christmas one year. Another gift I thought was a little strange at the time but guess what? Still have them, still use them almost daily. I have a silver-plated ice bucket that my grandma was given when she worked as nurse for the doctor who was also my physician when I was a kid. I’d been keeping the bucket in a cupboard but realized when thinking about this piece that I should put it out somewhere.

These useful gifts ensure that I think about my grandparents several times a week. They knew that a good cutting board would outlast a bottle of perfume or probably, a new sweater.  My grandma took a certain pride in her own cherished items—crystal, china, etc., yet never took her eye from the practical, from what it takes to run a household over a number of years. Whether you move it from place to place or not. I’m starting to think about this as my kids get closer to heading out on their own. And I will probably be guilty of giving them things that raise eyebrows but linger in their cupboards and drawers. At least I hope so.

1 comment:

  1. Dr. Lawrence. I love to be on your testimonial page to spread my happiness.This is a little appreciation with a very BIG THANK YOU to express my profound gratitude for your spell i want to let you know that my ex-boyfriend is back to me and we are now living happily am so grateful witting this testimony i really want to thank you for all the help and the times of difficulties you were by my side helping me out your spells are amazing


"As soon as we express something, we devalue it strangely. We believe ourselves to have dived down into the depths of the abyss, and when we once again reach the surface, the drops of water on our pale fingertips no longer resemble the ocean from which they came...Nevertheless, the treasure shimmers in the darkness unchanged." ---Franz Kafka