The Red Christmas Dishes

The other day I mentioned to my sister Lindy how sad I was that we did not have some of the Christmas things from our childhood that I liked. When Lindy and I were growing up, our mother had some lovely Christmas ornaments including a large blue glass ornament with the words, “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” written in white sparkles. I did, however, have to admit to my sister that our mother had sent me a few items for Christmas that I still use. She once mailed me a salt and pepper set in the shapes of Christmas ornaments and I use those every year. She also sent me a set of three candle holders also in the shape of ornaments. I put a votive candle in each holder and have a wonderful centerpiece. So even though I do not have anything from childhood, I still do have two things that our mother provided.

I had always wanted a set of Christmas dishes and in fact I bought a set of Christopher Radko  plates and bowls many years ago. Our stepmother Beatrice always had us use special dishes on every holiday and she had several lovely sets. One that I especially liked was a red Waechtersbach set, which had a green Christmas tree with white candles on a red background. These dishes were never to my knowledge used.  Our stepmother bought them because she saw them displayed in a cabinet at Marshall Field’s and she thought they looked wonderful.  Just like they were displayed at the store. She would put them on display each year, and then throughout the holiday season she would repeatedly comment on “how nice they looked.”

After many years, she stopped pulling them out for Christmas and they just sat on the shelf. After several more holiday seasons passed by with the dishes serving only an ornamental purpose, I finally asked:

Could I have the red dishes?

and Beatrice said

No, I promised them to your niece Diana.

I was “okay” with this answer since I knew that my sister Lindy and I always took a backseat to our step-sister Sissy and her daughter Diana in our stepmother’s opinion.

One year later, Beatrice said:

Would you like to take the red Christmas dishes home? Diana doesn’t want them and neither does anyone else.

Now, I did want the dishes, but I was not exactly thrilled to hear that “no one else” wanted them (whoever this group of “no one else was”).  I went home (with the dishes, of course) and called my step-sister Sissy.

After pouring out my heart to Sissy, she said:

Well, that wasn’t very nice, but you did want the dishes. Beatrice doesn’t know when to be quiet. Just enjoy the dishes.

And enjoy them I have. I used them last year many times and I have them out this year to use and enjoy this Christmas season.

Here’s the bottom line and the big picture: whenever I get the red dishes out, I remember that Beatrice first offered them to anyone but me. I feel sad for a moment but then I remember the true lesson of Christmas: to give generously and with a cheerful heart.  May we all give with love this Christmas!

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