Almost thirteen years and three months after our lovely wedding, I just got around to pulling the China we registered for out of the boxes. We had it stored in an upstairs linen closet, and when the kids saw the boxes, they asked to see the China. We don't have a China cabinet, and up until last month, when we were granted more cabinets with the remodel of the kitchen, we didn't have room in the kitchen for the China, either. I had toyed with the idea of selling it, but realized that probably no one in this neck of the woods was looking for Lenox Federal Cobalt Platinum China. I wasn't completely sure I wanted to sell it anyway.
So out of the box the pieces came, and all of them now have a place on the top shelf of our corner cabinet. Melina is drinking tea out of one of the teacups right now, and she says she feels fancy. Tea might be the only use of the China that occurs for the next thirteen years and then some, but there was something about the moment, when I cracked open the boxes, that was just so sentimental, I'm glad that I was able to do it.
I thought of the people who cared enough to buy a place setting; I thought of the conversation I had with my mother, when she said I'd regret not registering for China (I didn't really want China, and knowing that it took me this long to open it, I don't think I would have regretted it, but who's to say.). I thought of that steamy September day when Tim and I and all the people who were important to us were able to party the afternoon away and then go on to have some drinks at the local watering hole. I thought of how different our life was then and how similar it is now: somethings have stayed the same, and others didn't.
I think if I'd have opened the boxes without the kids, I might have packaged them back up and listed the China on Craigslist. But seeing the wide eyes and smiles as we opened each box, the way the kids, all four of them, held the pieces in their hands, the way they gently placed a salad plate on top of the dinner plate and made sure that the tea cups were secure in their hands before coming down the stairs, the reverence in their actions. It meant something to me and reminded me that perhaps the China wasn't just another set of dinnerware. Perhaps it actually means something much more.