In my family, heirlooms aren’t abundant. My mother sold her mother’s silver because “it was taking up space” and “when you get married you’ll want your own.” When we moved from our last house, a lot of our childhood possessions went in the garbage or to charity – because realistically, we look at them once or twice every ten years and for the remainder of that time, they gather dust in the basement or in storage.
Which in my opinion, makes select family hand-me downs even more special. I wear a cameo stone ring that my mother was this close to discarding because she didn’t like it. I keep a handful of photos of my parents, pre-kids, pre-divorce, in my home desk drawer because select mementos do make me smile every once in awhile and they’re good to keep on hand.
Not unsurprisingly, some of the other artifacts from my ancestors hail from the kitchen. My late maternal grandmother kept a meticulous kitchen – from nightly family dinners to holiday parties she was spectacular at entertaining – in that old-fashioned, 1950′s meat and potatoes kind of way.
Even though my mother doesn’t claim to possess the culinary gene that was passed from my grandmother to me, skipping a generation, she’s well-versed at how to set up a party with the same classic vibe that her mother did. When we’ve had company, the ice bucket never runs low, the dishes are done immediately after the last guest takes his/her final bite and this silver dish is never empty – lined with a doily and topped with mixed nuts or after-dinner mints.
I may not throw parties the way my grandmother did, or the way my mother has, but I keep this dish in my cabinet anyway. Even though it’s only seen a few handfuls of addictive spiced pecans and never an after-dinner mint (I prefer serving my friends an after dinner martini, if you want to get technical) it holds a special place on my shelf, reminiscent of the traditions that the women in my family have already set and the ones that we’ll create.
With today being my mother’s birthday, I could tell that her day would be overshadowed by Thanksgiving dinner preparations as well as my upcoming move. Last year, we had flourless chocolate cake. This year, celebration will be a little more spontaneous, maybe even a little bit off the cuff. But I have no doubts that whatever we do, we’ll make it classic.
And in Chicago? If I have parties? I’ll try to remember the after-dinner mints.
Happy Birthday, Mom!
Did you notice that I’ve been posting more frequently than usual this week? In celebration of National Novel Writing Month, some bloggers choose to commemorate November with NaBloPoMo,
or National Blog Posting Month. I’ve challenged myself to post daily
this month and hope that you’ll challenge yourselves to read them all!