China Patterns

When we got married (ages and ages ago!) I was particularly excited about choosing a china pattern.  I don’t know if modern brides “register” for china patterns and place settings any more, but it was still a very important thing to do in the 1970’s. I spent hours and hours perusing the gorgeous displays on the third floor Fine China department at J.L. Hudson’s, our best department store.  Even though I adored the Royal Doulton floral designs, I finally settled on a white-on-white pattern made by Noritake, because I thought it would be versatile and I would have a better variety of choices for my table linens. (Wasn’t I smart for a 20 year old?)  I also liked the name of my pattern – Affection – which appealed to my quite romantic nature.  Once I’d chosen my “fine” table service, I moved on to register for the “everyday” settings.  Here I chose a floral pattern (tiny pink roses) on ironstone china, a heavy tableware meant to withstand daily use.

I’ve always had a china fetish, though you wouldn’t know it to look at the cheap Corelle dishes I’ve been eating from for the past 15 years.  I love to set a pretty table, and enjoy looking at table settings in stores and on magazines.  When we left our house in Florida last spring, intending to put it on the market, I actually set the dining room table with all my matching dish and glassware, and bought new table linens to coordinate. I remember when we looked at the furnished models that the table settings made the homes look so inviting.

Somehow using pretty dishes enhance the whole dining experience. Food even tastes better I think, when it’s presented beautifully on lovely dining “elements.”  We traditionally had holiday dinners at our house (using the Affection china), and my father in law always remarked that the coffee was so much better in those china cups. My mother in law would say he was being silly, but I don’t think he was. Aside from the fact that the coffee I made was fresh brewed and not the Taster’s Choice crystals he drank at home, it did seem to taste richer when sipped from the silver rim around those delicate china cups.

I started thinking about china today because I was searching in the bottom of my china cabinet (yes, I also got one of those when I got married) for a silver baby cup that someone gave me when my son was born.  To find it, I had to take out all eight place settings of Affection china from where they’ve been stacked inside the dark cabinet for the past eleven years.

Yes, it’s been eleven years since I’ve used my “fine china.” I suppose I should just pull it out of the china cabinet and use it everyday – why save it now? Aside from the fact that there’s probably zero chance of hosting a dinner party or holiday meal in this house ever again, why not use something that might bring me a moment’s small pleasure each time I sit down to eat?

I suppose there’s still just enough of the eager young bride’s mentality left deep within me that I want to safeguard my “good china.” It represents an idealized time in my life, when I had so much still ahead of me. Giving it up for everyday use almost feels like giving up, like resigning myself to letting all those dreams go forever.

I’m not ready to do that just yet.

But I might leave out a couple of cups and saucers just for my morning coffee.

How about you? Do you have a set of “fine china” that means something special to you?

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14 thoughts on “China Patterns

  1. I also admit to being a “dish-a-phile.” My mother was one and the streak runs way beyond the epidermis, believe me. I have had so many ‘sets’ of dishes I can’t remember them all. I still “switch” them out seasonally and just because. I love to hear the clankity-clack of them as tables are set and dishes are washed or stacked. Heaven knows what I’ll do with all of my mother’s dishes when its time to scale down her collection, but somehow I’ll manage…..and you may just have to come over for a “spot of tea and a biscuit!” Lovely Post as Always, Becca. CAROL

    • All of we 70’s bride’s should have a china tea party! Let’s plan that when you come home 🙂

      Did our church ever have one of those ladies lunch/tea affairs where you got a table and decorated if for your friends with your best china and linens? Some church (maybe St. Paul’s?) did that at Christmas time.

  2. I don’t know how you do it, but you always hit on subjects that I’ve been pondering. I recently told my husband that I’m going to sell my good china – Solitaire by Lenox. Similar to yours, it’s off white with a silver band, but I must say that affection is more romantic than solitaire.

    I guess I’m not terribly nostalgic about my china, but it was beautiful on the table with candles and silver. We only used it for holidays and special occasions. It’s still in perfect condition, but I’ll never use it again, and I’m pretty sure my son’s wife doesn’t want it. Their lifestyle is very informal. We’ve been on this declutter mission for a while and my china is on the list. We just haven’t gotten to it yet.

    • My son and daughter in law would never want my china either. So you do have to think about what to do with all that kind of stuff. I’ve been on the de-cluttering kick too, and believe me, there is a lot to de-clutter when one family has lived in a house for almost 60 years. Yikes…

  3. Pull out that good stuff and use it! Every day is a special day!

    Heck, I even put the gold trimmed stuff in the dishwasher. I’ll be dead and gone long before all the gold is. 😉

  4. We have a china cabinet that we bought 23 years ago and the china and crystal are looking very nice in there. We take it out for special occasions and I am Positive that the food does taste better on it. It always feels like such a special event when we set out the china and it just makes everyone feel a little more upbeat.

    It is special to us because the Lovely Miss TK picked it out and bought it before we were married as a treat for the two of us and that always brings back some really nice memories as we enter our 25th year of marriage.

    • It’s great to hear from the male perspective on this issue, and I’m really glad to know you enjoy using the good dishes too! It’s nice to know it isn’t just a girl thing 🙂

  5. I don’t own any special china…I sometimes think we should but then I find most of the fancy stuff old-fashioned and fear I’ll grow tired of it very quickly. In the end I always like our plain strict white plates more which is as versatile as can be and can’t be bothered to spend a lot of money on china we’d hardly use.

    I do set-up a nice table with folded napkins, lined up glasses, candles & some flower arrangements when we have guests. But the plates itself are in fact our everyday plates. My friends don’t seem to own fancy china either.

    • I think most young people see it as an unnecessary expense, which it really is for the most part 🙂 There are so many pretty “everyday” dishes now you can still set a nice looking table without the fancy stuff!

  6. Shawn and I registered for China at a Mikasa factory store and it was so tacky my mom made me change it! (And seriously, she was right). I love our simpler, tasteful pattern, but we didn’t get all the pieces. My china cabinet is small, and I wish we had given our china more thought, because now, I use what I have on holidays. It only took about 10 years!

    I love my friend, Kathryne’s, philosophy. She has nice china and uses it all the time. She even sticks it in the dishwasher! She’s a seize the day kind of person and believes every day is a fine china day.

  7. Fine china that’s special — let’s see. Was it the set of Royal Doulton with a simple gold band I bought with money left from my grandmother? The other grandmother’s pretty Johnson Brothers set? Definitely the Christmas dishes — my mom’s favorites and mine, too. Or, the Turkey plates — I remember going with my mom to Canada to buy them because the price was better. Could it be the Fiesta I started collecting by myself and then a friend’s mother gave me her entire set because “none of the kids wanted them and I knew you’d love them.” Oh, I have others, too. Trouble is, they all mean a lot. Which is beginning to resemble “China Hoarders!”

  8. Yes, I am also a bride of the 70’s and got my china from J L Hudson’s. I chose the Ferndale pattern because I grew up in a small community in Kentucky called Ferndale. My mom still lives there and I have moved back to Kentucky just a few miles from my mother. I also keep mine in a china cabinet. I display the plates, cups & saucers but the serving pieces are packed neatly in protective covering in the bottom of that cabinet. I haven’t used them for quite some time now. I also have Noritake Wayfarer pattern ironstone everyday dishes. They are white with blue around the outer edge and a bird in flight in the center. They are now packed away because I have not had blue in my kitchen for several years now. I just can’t bring myself to get rid of them!

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