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Go Ask Mom

Amanda Lamb: Silver bells

Posted December 22, 2013

This year will be the first year I am "doing Christmas" without my mother. Last year, we went away and skipped all of the traditional holiday festivities. It was a nice change of pace and exactly what I needed in the wake of her death. But this year I'm back in the swing of things.

For as long as I can remember, we have hosted Christmas dinner at our house for anywhere from a dozen to 25 or so guests - family and friends without a family to spend the holiday with. The event has always featured festive tables set days before the actual dinner, an abundance of food and lots of laughs. This year, I am managing it on my own, albeit with help from my husband and guests who have all agreed to bring something. But I keep hearing my mother in my head ...

"Make sure your napkins are ironed or dry cleaned, make sure you have flowers for the tables, make sure you have enough silverware, always use your nicest plates."

Truth be told, some of the admonitions I will follow, others I will temper with the notion that it is time to develop my own traditions, traditions my kids can then alternately follow and then eschew.

One thing she was always worried about was my lack of silverware. I had gotten a few odd pieces when I got married, but not being much of a traditionalist, I had failed to fill in the set by purchasing the rest. When am I ever going to need this? I thought. Until I did...

Each Christmas morning immediately after opening gifts, my mother and I would have to run the dishwasher multiple times and literally use every fork and knife I owned in order to set the tables. My kids would come into the kitchen looking for something to eat their breakfast or lunch with.

"Put the fork down, young lady, use a spoon, it works just as well," I would say, diving for the clean fork before sticky little hands grabbed it.

So, as I was "gathering" my items for Christmas dinner this year, I recalled a box I had never unpacked in the basement that came from my mother's house.

Eagerly, I ran downstairs and located the box beneath a stack of Christmas presents in a closet. Gingerly, I pulled the packing tape off the seam and opened it up. Inside, there were several cloth pouches that were rolled up and tied securely.

I untied one and rolled it out flat on the floor in front of me. And there they were, seven silver forks, not eight or six, but seven. In another pouch, I found seven knives, and then seven spoons. Each one was engraved on the handle with an "L" standing for her married last name.

I realized it wouldn't complete the cutlery I needed for Christmas dinner for 20 or more this year, but it would sure help. I also realized something else, surely my mom had asked for eight place settings on her wedding registry because no one asks for seven. So, like me, she had failed to buy the final set. When will I need more than seven? She thought. Who knew the answer was: December 2013.

So, this year, my mother will not be at my Christmas table, but her wedding silver will be. I'd like to think in some small way I will be honoring her by carrying on old traditions, and starting some new ones. And I'm pretty sure she would approve, unless I decide to use paper plates, that's a deal breaker ...

Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including three on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.

8 Comments

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  • Bass Pro 3 Dec 24, 2013

    Lost my favorite sister in June to colon cancer so this will be a different Christmas! I have cooked two of her famous recipes and cried the entire time I was making them. She always bought books for the grandkids, and I had promised her I would continue with at least one book for each child. Plus she always gave my twins a roll of quarters tucked inside a box of candy canes or Tootsie Rolls so I've made that purchase, too. Just would not seem like Christmas without those. When the 28 family members and guests arrive, Aunt Brenda will be here in spirit. It's hard to imagine Christmas without her, but her traditions will bring all of us comfort as we carry on. Merry Christmas and God bless to all who have lost a loved one in 2013.

  • Obamacare for America Dec 24, 2013

    25 guests for Christmas? I would hang myself.

  • jpittard2 Dec 24, 2013

    A special "Merry Christmas" for those missing loved ones this year. My Dad died 2 years ago this February and my Mom 6 months later. Last year was a blur but this year I feel the loss. I plan to honor both of them in different ways this year. For Mom it will be what I cook and for Dad, well, I will hear him saying "Don't clean up! Get over there with those grandchildren!" and I will hug each one and tell them that was from Greatgrampa!

  • cjnall Dec 23, 2013

    Your mom will be with you forever. She shared such love that the bond will never be totally broken. Now you are daily cultivating that bond with your daughters. Life's cycle is just awesome when we can ease the pain with these bonds and memories!
    Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  • 123skipjack Dec 23, 2013

    I can't stop crying...

  • PAINFREE Dec 23, 2013

    Amanda, don't keep Mom's silver in a box. Use it every day. The more you use it, the less you have to polish it. Your mother would love for you and your family to be using it. Don't worry about not having eight of everything. Merry Christmas to all of you and a wonderful 2014.

  • cmk617 Dec 23, 2013

    Amanda, I love to read your posts. Your writing is so descriptive and enjoyable. Merry Christmas.

  • carolinajack Dec 23, 2013

    Amanda--Thank you for sharing your journey with readers as you honor the life of your sweet mom. My dad passed in May and my mom passed away just last week. Knowing it would be important for our family to celebrate Christmas all together, I am hosting for our clan. My husband and I had a huge discussion over china vs. paper plates. My husband has requested china. I really wanted to do paper, so clean up would be faster. After reading your article, the answer was clear. My sisters and myself have decided to combine some of my mom's china with our sets. I've already made some of my mom's fudge to serve for dessert. Enjoy the great memories.