In Defense of Good China

When my husband and I were engaged, our mothers told us we had to go register for our china pattern.

We stood in the department store, in front of the display of china patterns, and giggled. Really? China? We weren't old enough for good china!

Eventually, a few weeks later, our heads more firmly wrapped around growing up, we returned and chose our china pattern.

We received a total of 8 place settings as wedding gifts.

Moving from apartment to apartment (6 times in our first 7 years of marriage), and then eventually into our first house--overwhelming jobs, two little bitty kids, no room to entertain, the china stayed in a box for most of its early years.

Once every two or three years, I'd pull it out for a holiday dinner, just us four. My little kids would help set the table, their eyes wide, their hands unusually careful.

The china is out. This must be a special meal.

Five years ago, we moved into our new house. New construction--we could choose the floor plan. I was adamant: I wanted a separate dining room.

"Really? The trend is towards open floor plans and no formal dining rooms. No one ever uses them anymore!" I was advised. As I read in magazines that mix-matched china from garage sales and using your casual everyday plates was now the modern trend, I kept picturing my china in a falling-apart box under a kitchen cabinet. "No. I want a formal dining room. I want to use my china."

Now we have a formal dining room, a dining room set that I love. We have now become one of the regular host homes for extended families at holidays. And, approaching our 25th anniversary in 2012, I just bought the remaining four place settings to fill out a complete set of 12.

My daughter still asks if she can be the one to set the table. At 18, her eyes are still just a little bit wide. She's still a little extra-careful.

The china is out. This must be a special meal.