Every year I host a Christmas dinner for family and friends. With my mother not here to help me, I have significantly pared down the tradition asking guests to bring a side dish and foregoing crystal glasses for glasses that can go in the dishwasher.
But this year I started a new tradition, using a few pieces of my mother and my grandmother's silver and serving pieces.
I remember as a little girl watching the adults with fascination at my grandmother's Christmas table ladle the salt and pepper out of miniature bowls with tiny delicate spoons that looked like they belonged in a dollhouse. Recently, in one of my organizing spells, I discovered them in a little box in my attic and decided it was time they made an appearance at my Christmas table.
I also located my mother's silver butter dish and some small crystal serving bowls that I'm pretty sure were on a coffee table filled with nuts when I was a child. This year, I decided Trader Joe's dip and crackers would christen the bowls into the 21st century. Although I never buy "real" butter sticks, this year I broke down and got the real thing just so I could use the dish.
I don't expect my girls to notice these items now, but I hope someday when they are adults and are hosting their own holiday parties, they will find them in a dusty box in the attic and unwrap them from their felt bags and decide to use them. And when this happens, I hope these sentimental items will evoke memories of Christmases past, warm memories of sitting around a table with family and friends.
If this happens, then the otherwise mundane life of a butter dish or a gravy boat takes on new meaning. It becomes more than an object, but a symbol of how life truly does span generations and come full circle in the simple act of sharing a meal with people you love who love you back.
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.