While cleaning out the garage recently, Stephen discovered three boxes in a corner that I had not ever unpacked. (I had thought I finished THAT odious job a long time ago, and I was not thrilled.)
The boxes in question contained some crystal bowls, a silver serving set, more china, a pewter bread tray, silver napkin rings in a velveteen box, and a crystal platter. All of the items were in their original packaging and condition, with the exception of the silver, which was in its original packaging and severely tarnished.
As I rearranged the board games and DVDs in the hall closet to make room for these additional items, I could feel the judgment of the simple-living blog community in which I regularly read and lurk. Why was I taking up space in my home with these dishes which have never been used in our six years of marriage? In what possible future scenario would I be setting a table with china, cutting cake with a crystal-handled server, and rolling cloth napkins in silver rings?
When I throw a fancy baby shower…when our kids are older and we want to have a special holiday meal…I weakly retort, conjuring up hopeful visual images of myself as a classy and gracious hostess.
And there, I think, is the rub. I don’t want to get rid of the silver and the crystal because I like to imagine that somewhere deep inside of me is the kind of woman who would use it. Past the layers of my current self–the one that stays smeared with snot and likes eating s’mores off of paper plates– there is a Lady, the kind who knows how to accessorize with fabulous jewelry, who knows whether you should eat or wear a canape, and who has opinions about the best little places to eat in Paris.
Today I have no occasion to wear pantyhose, high heels, or cocktail dresses. I am most famous for a recipe that calls for cans of crescent rolls. My party dishes are green plastic and were purchased on sale at Wal-Mart. But maybe some day I will discover this genteel lady within, and when I do, I will let her eat cake. Served on a china plate.
P.S. I came across this picture that makes my point exactly. Apparently this question of the formal vs.informal sides of my identity has been in play for a while.