Memories are a big part of holidays for me. In preparation for Thanksgiving, my youngest child removed my mother’s flatware from the storage box and washed it for the holiday meal.
There is a specific ritual used to clean the spoons and forks and knives. They must be washed by hand in warm soapy water, rinsed in clear water, and each piece must be carefully dried with a clean hand towel. OK it’s not much of a ritual. But extra care is taken cleaning the silverware because it was important to my mother. In fact, for many years, she didn’t let anyone else clean it.
My mother grew up in a large family on a small farm during the Depression. They didn’t have much. When she married my father, they still didn’t have much. When my brother and I came along, we didn’t have much either, although I wasn’t keenly aware of this until I went off to college and met people who had…. a lot! I didn’t think much about our simple life, because our basic needs were met. And we were surrounded by people who were in similar situations. Yes, there were people in the neighborhood who had more than we did but “More” had a different meaning. I didn’t grow up deprived…. I took piano lessons, swimming lessons, I had my own bike. But we were always aware of what we could and could not afford and lived accordingly.
The careful handling of my mother’s silverware reflects the basic understanding of taking care of what we have and making it last. My mother’s silverware was not real silver. It was not expensive. In fact, she paid very little for it. She collected it over several years by saving Betty Crocker coupons from products she purchased at the grocery store. She bought it piece by piece using the coupons and a little bit of money. And she took care of it. Washing it carefully, only using it for holidays, keeping it safely stored away when not in use. Each piece is as shiny today as it was when it arrived in the mail over fifty years ago.
Every holiday I think of Mom and her silverware. I continue to cherish it and take care of it, just like she did.