You may have noticed I’ve been focusing a lot more on storytelling and sharing the heart of our brand, the heirloom, lately. I love to think of this not as a blog, but rather a place to share the stories of the South and to capture the stories behind handwritten recipes, meaningful objects, small town squares and forgotten crafts before they are lost for future generations.
Today I’m sharing a peek inside our dining room hutch, which houses a treasure trove of some of the most special pieces to me. When my Grandmother passed away, we were fortunate to each have the chance to select a collection of her China to keep for our very own. Why she had so many full collections of China, I’m not quite sure, though I do remember her using each of them for different purposes over the years as she was always entertaining.
I, of course, selected the most neutral of the patterns, white-on-white was an easy choice. But even more special to me, this set was actually my Grandmother + Grandfather’s set of wedding China so it was full of sentiment. The ironic thing about this set is that she used it rather frequently, and the set she regarded more as an “everyday” setting not to be used for special occasions like most holiday meals. Today’s bride would surely scoff at the notion.
The second set of China I inherited is the one that holds the important story, and one I hope you’ll take note of. This floral rose pattern was my Great Grandmother, who we called Nana, my Grandpa’s mother. She was very French, very proper and I love looking at old photos of her dressed in furs and heels – at least that was my impression of her. She lived well into her nineties so I recall visiting her throughout my childhood, though I never met my Great Grandfather, as he passed away before I was born. This particular pattern was also their set of wedding China, and I absolutely love that I have two sets of wedding China from two generations to tell this story.
Now the “story” here is that after the selections of China had all been made, it was this rose pattern of my Nana’s that remained unclaimed. Everyone had had their pick so this was the extra that no one desired. The other collections were all more meaningful or more beautiful or more appropriate for our homes, but this was the oldest set and the one with the most storied past.
Especially at the time, the pattern was one that was certainly not the most appealing. These florals were not exactly “in Vogue” if you will. But I couldn’t let it go. The thought of selling it, or dropping it off at the Goodwill and letting this collection and all the memories that were created around the table of our family’s past generations was more than I could bear. So, I agreed to take it and packed it away for over a decade, where it has remained tucked in kitchen cabinets or attic storage.
This “treatment” of an heirloom kind of goes against everything I stand for. I mean, you can’t keep everything but surely you are with me on this one, right? However, I tell the story today because recently we purchased this great new hutch for our dining room and I needed something to fill the bare shelves. Though it took a minute, I finally decided my Grandmother’s white China in stacks would be the perfect accessory but when it only filled up half it left me wondering what to do. It was then I remembered this other set and figured it would do to fill the void.
Much to my excitement, as I unwrapped each piece I realized all over how truly beautiful and special each piece was. Seeing it proudly displayed, next to my Grandmother’s China to help tell the story gave me a renewed appreciation for all the thought they had put into their patterns during a joyous time, all the guests who had selected a special pieces to gift and all of the meals they prepared and enjoyed using the set.
While the art of registering for weddings these days has become much more practical and disposable, it is my hope that folks remember the significance an object can hold, even generations down the line.
[ Just a few more things to note in our cabinet – the pewter goblets my Mom gave us for our wedding, a few collected candle sticks + cakestands, a sketch of my Grandmother when she was younger, and a wedding photo from my Grandparents wedding, that includes my Great Grandmother + Grandfather that truly brings these pieces to life ]
Love to see your China patterns and hear your stories at #heirloomed.