Thoughts on broken china I was hurrying to try and get a serving dish down from the top shelf of the cabinet. A stack of three Wedgewood coffee cups started to bobble.

My calculator-brain immediately computed the risk. I KNEW dropping the serving bowl would break it, and that it is more expensive to replace and would be much more missed than a single coffee cup. I gripped the dish and tried to block the falling triplet. Let’s just say my calculated risk paid off (in the negative sense) and we now have one coffee cup’s worth of extra cabinet space.

My kids watched the fiasco with rapt attention from their chairs at the kitchen table.

After the great clatter died down and last shard of glass stopped spinning, I shouted, “stay there. Nobody move. I need to clean up the glass.”

My kids had a million really relevant and helpful questions. Like, “why did those fall? Why didn’t you have daddy get that dish down for you?”

I found myself replying in a “not very nice” voice that, “daddy is at work a lot, so I have to do things by myself a lot. Sometimes I have to try do things I’m not strong enough to do or reach things I’m not tall enough to reach because daddy isn’t here.”

Immediately, I started hearing what I was saying how the kids were probably hearing me. I sounded like a spoiled, bratty child who makes excuses and is unwilling to admit when she messes up. I could have slowed down, gotten a chair, and gotten the dish down safely. But I was hurrying. I do everything like there is a fire lit under it, and one bigger than that lit under me.

“Was that the first one broken [from the set]”, Liam asked. Insightful 6 year old.

I had to think. No, a bowl with a hairline crack in it succumbed to the dishwasher about 6 months ago. There’s a knife that went missing during one of the years my brother lived with us (I still have hope that it’s in the trunk of his car).

The pieces are extremely expensive to replace. They were wedding presents. The set is discontinued. High end china and silver. Most people keep them packed away. We, however, choose to use and enjoy them as much as possible.

All this taking inventory of our dishes and silverware somehow translated as a metaphor for our marriage. There’s a piece missing here or there, but we’re still a set. Still breathtakingly beautiful. Something to be proud of. Maybe a bit more scratched and a little less shiny than when brand spanking new out of the packaging, but still thoroughly useful and meant to be together.

More than ten years ago, Dan and I chose our dishes and flatware as we registered for wedding presents. We had/have very different tastes, but found something we could both agree on. And I’ve never, ever gotten sick of our pattern. It hasn’t aged, even though we have.

Most importantly, I am still absolutely in love with and enamored by my husband. I know just how lucky I am and bask in the knowledge that even though Dan is gone during the day, he cannot wait to be headed home to us–even if knows he’s coming home to a broken coffee cup.


1 thought on “Thoughts on broken china”

  1. I caught a blip of your website on Jamie’s website. I was just looking at his recipes. I too am so concerned about what our children are being served (or not served) at the school cafeteria. I watched and obsessed over Jamie’s show but really feel I’m too small in the whole scheme to make a difference. Where do I start in my own school? Will they even care or listen to me?? I need facts,I’m sure. I send my child to school with his lunch and usually he wants to eat pizza on Friday so I let him. I am not a nutition nut but I am very good about giving my 2 children healthy foods and staying away from crap food. Sometimes an oreo or 2 doesn’t hurt but not everyday. So, you have inspired me to look into the stiuation. We are Coast Guard and we move every 2-4 yrs so it’s daunting to thing I would be doing this everytime we move on. Until we have a nation that cares about what their kids eat, we will still have to work at it. Thanks and I really enjoyed reading you blog, I can’t read it al right now because my 2 kids are screaming! Gotta go!

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