Sunday, May 28, 2017

God with us at the table has sat down

©  2017 Christy K Robinson

When I was a couple of years out of university and recovering from a life-changing injury, my mother and I went walking as good exercise in a controlled, safe environment: the shopping mall. In the housewares department, I found white porcelain plates, cups, and serving dishes with ink drawings and watercolors of wildflowers. I started buying them, a few pieces at a time. Later, I discovered some crystal goblets that were heavy and felt smooth to the touch, and I collected those, too.
Church friends having lunch on my patio.

I was single, and shared a house with my brother. We had separate social lives, but an understanding about entertaining company either separately or together. We had pool parties and barbecues, and hosted my Christian singles group many times. I had friends over after church, having made special foods and laid the table with my wildflower dishes, crystal goblets,  candles and music.

My thought was, Why save my beautiful things in a china cabinet or hope chest, toward a wedding, husband, and children that might never come? (And they didn't!) I should use and enjoy my pretty things instead of hide them away for "special" times.

My dad and his wife, having
chimichangas on my patio.
Time moved on. After I moved from Arizona to California for my job, I had a different set of friends over, and they loved the Friday night dinner for two, or the after-church lunch on the patio under the wisteria, always with the china. They loved my dinners, but they rarely returned the invitations, and after a while, I stopped going to the trouble and expense.

I found a new set to collect, though: blue and white English castles. Some were souvenirs I'd bought in England, and others were from California antique shops. Nothing matched, but everything coordinated, if you know what I mean.

Twelve years later, I moved back to Arizona. I donated my silver-plate serving pieces and candlesticks. I decided to sell my wildflower set, but could find no buyers. It seems that everyone uses plastic or paper plates for meals, even at Thanksgiving or Christmas. I must be the last person with lovely dishes.

But it's not just "everyone else." I've been using the same inexpensive, plain blue plates and cobalt glasses for 20 years. I don't use plastic or paper, but I've settled for routine and indestructible. In the 2000s, no one entertains at home--we meet for Starbucks coffee, or go out for Mexican food. In fact, people tell me they don't want a fuss made, that it's easier to eat out. My wildflower plates stay packed, and my blue and white castles get dusty in the china hutch. If I offer a cold drink, people think it's formal for me to pour their bottled water into a glass. And when I eat meals, I don't lay the table. I eat by the computer while I'm writing. Because who's going to care or notice?

Oh, no. I've fallen into the trap that I escaped in my twenties! I think it's time to hide my serviceable, thrifty plates, and bring out the china, the tea lights, and crystal. When it's pretty, I'll be mindful of the blessing of good food, and I'll remember to give thanks. And I'll remember that I've asked the Lord to be present, and he deserves the best.

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