Tradition: the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way.
A couple of years ago I had the good fortune to inherit some really quite wonderful old collections of household items, things I really cherish.
The first was a dinner service - "Ode" by Denby - which belonged to my mother in law. She and John's father were given it as a wedding gift when they married in the seventies but she'd stopped using it some years ago and, knowing how I love so many things manufactured during this period, she kindly offered it to me. Plates are plates, I know, but I take a bizarre satisfaction in having matching plates - it makes me feel like a proper grown up. We have dinner plates, side plates, cake plates, cereal bowls, soup bowls and serving dishes, all of which we use every day. In the loft, I have boxes containing a full coffee set - cups, saucers, sugar bowl, the lot - egg cups, vinegar bottles, salt and pepper pots - yes, all in Denby Ode, all matching. Those we don't use, and don't have space to store downstairs, but I can't bring myself to put them on ebay, I love them all too much.
You see, these plates are not just plates. They speak to me of family, of memory, of tradition, and they celebrate the everyday ritual of sitting down at the table together and sharing a meal. I want my children to associate these plates with their childhood in the same way that John associates them with his. (Also, they can go in the dishwasher, a definite bonus.)
And then we have my Grandma's cutlery set. The family silver.
|These are the soup spoons which have not been used for some years and yes, they need a good polish!|
It's solid silver, apart from the knives which have silver handles and stainless steel blades. It's heavy. The forks and spoons have a solidity and weight to them that you just don't get any more, they feel substantial in your hand. It came in an old canteen, a wooden box lined with teal velvet, with foam inserts for each knife, fork and spoon. Unfortunately the foam is disintegrating before my eyes, (it's some decades old I think) leaving a fine dust on everything it touches, so I can't store the cutlery in there any more. But I can't bring myself to get rid of it, it's too full of history and memories.
This cutlery is not for every day, it's for high days and holidays. It's for "best". It can't go in the dishwasher, for starters, but must be washed by hand. It requires attention, careful polishing and storing. It's a bit precious, to be honest, but that makes me appreciate it all the more. My grandparents would not have used this every day (the cutlery stored in the kitchen table drawer was for that) but I remember my Grandpa getting out this canteen and carefully laying the dining room table for Sunday lunch with the best cutlery, the good china, the crystal glasses. (It was always his job to set the table and when, as children, we stayed the night I would watch him lay the kitchen table for breakfast before they went up to bed, so that it was ready for the morning, with mats, napkins, cutlery, egg cups and bowls, proper bone china tea cups and saucers - do people still do things like that any more I wonder?)
But, oh, when I get out this cutlery and set the table, I cannot tell you how happy it makes me. There is comfort in handling things which were treasured by much loved family members who are no longer with us, comfort in cherishing the things they cherished. We use it at Christmas and Easter, and whenever we have friends over and I want to make the table look pretty. It probably only gets used four or five times a year but that's ok, I plan to continue using it forever.
So, colour. It hasn't escaped my notice that I've talked about everything but colour here and that's because there isn't a whole lot of colour going on. Brown and grey. Beige and silver. But, that's the beauty of these things! Timeless and versatile, these plates and knives compliment everything else going on around them. I added a white table runner here, but I've got a hot pink one too and that works just as well. The colour comes from the season and the ocassion; the flowers, the food on the table, the wine. The job of the plates and cutlery is to be a classy showpiece for everything else, to be neutral and tasteful in the background, not shouting. We'll leave the shouting to the children who don't want to eat their peas, and to the grown ups who had too much too drink.
What is The Colour Collaborative?
If you'd like to read posts by the other Colour Collaborative bloggers, please follow the links below:
Annie at Knitsofacto
Sandra at Cherry Heart
Jennifer at Thistlebear
Claire at Above The River