Sunday, September 24, 2006

Too Many Glasses!

Mom came home from Springfield with glasses, lots and lots of glasses. Supposedly, she inherited them from her sister, DoDo, who died a few years ago. Not that Dodo actually designated Mom as the recipient of these glasses, I think it was more that they were passed on to various family members, none of whom wanted them and so, by default, they came to Mom. The family was even so thoughtful that they, eagerly, loaded them into her car. I think they all heaved a huge, collective sigh of relief, knowing they were being sent off to a new home in Indiana.

The thing is, when Mom told me she'd brought back some glasses that were Dodo's, she sort of played it down. I don't know what mental picture the word "some" conjures up in your head, but to me, some means, maybe a dozen, at most. But, this was no dozen - Mom unpacked glasses and unpacked glasses until the influx took up the entire dining room table. There are water glasses and champagne flutes and rocks glasses and wine glasses and pony glasses and a decanter with shot glasses. And they all match - crystal with gold leaves. The White House could ask to borrow our house to host a State Dinner for the Sultan of Brunei and there would be plenty of glasses for all the guests (there wouldn't be enough chairs, parking spaces for limousines or bathrooms but by Gosh, they'd all having matching glasses).

And, we didn't really need glasses because Mom came from the old school when it was protocol that the respectable homemaker should have the "good china", the "next best china" and the "every day china". And we are definitely respectable, at least in the china area, if very few others.

We have a set of fine bone china with matching crystal goblets and silver plate and starched linen napkins to go with it. I remember exactly when we last used these things. It was the Christmas of 1988. Jim knew he was dying and wouldn't see another Christmas. He asked us to go all out for Christmas that year and we did, pulling out all the stops. Mom has threatened several times since to drag out the good stuff for a family holiday but we never have (since it would all have to be washed first). This china is in the china cabinet.

(Incidentally, this "good, better, best" theory of chinaware is now a thing of the past. We tried to pawn the good china/crystal/silver off on John and Lisa. We thought of them rather like a part of our family heritage we were passing on to the next generation, but Lisa, polite as she is, could not hold back a look of horror at to the suggestion that she take on the responsibility for the good china.)

Next, we have a set of "nice" china - a set Dad bought Mom for their anniversary many years ago. (My Dad died on my 27th birthday and I just turned 60). This china is mostly black and Mom bought a set of cut glass-type glasses to go with it. This dishware is in one of the kitchen cupboards. Up on that shelf is also the second set of silver flatware that Jim inherited from his Grandma.

Lastly, we have a set of Pfalzgraf, I bought from Todd Titus when he and Anne were married. His mom had bought it for him and, bachelor that he was then, he rarely used it. I paid him $15 for the whole set. This is what we consider our every day dishes. In the intervening years, Mom has bought every piece of this china she ever found at garage sales - and that's a lot! We have additional plates, cups (both coffee and chocolate), saucers, platters, gravy boats, cereal bowls, salt and pepper shakers, pitchers, soup tureens, etc. As much as will fit of this china has the place of honor in the most easily reached kitchen cupboard shelves. In the high cupboard that you have to use a step ladder to reach, are the extra pieces - because if we should break a plate or cup, don't you know, we could get right up there and have the replacement piece waiting in the wings!

There are two sets of glasses that "go with" the Pfalzgraf. A set of brown goblets that hold approximately one thimble-ful of milk. John always complained about these glasses because he had to re-fill them ten times per meal. So I bought another set of gold glasses, bigger ones, to use with the Pfalzgraf.

We also have glasses that Mom bought once in Colorado - they have pictures that celebrate that state's centennial. I have a set of western-type glasses that have branding iron symbols painted on them. My first husband won them on a tip board (along with a matching cookie jar) in 1967. We have souvenir glasses from various bars and pubs from which one of us once got a pina colada or margarita or specialty ale. We have strays left over from various other sets of glasses we got through the years. We have a set of plastic glasses, which every one sticks their noses up at using but me. I like plastic. I think, somewhere in the garage, we even have a brightly colored set of metal glasses that you used to get as a gift for buying something, I don't remember what.

The bottom line is that we are overwhelmed by glasses, over-run with glasses, being crowded out of our very house by glasses. If our glasses were stacked up on top of one another, they would reach the top of the Empire State Building. We could have a "glasses only" garage sale for people with a glasses fetish. If I ever ran for political office again (which isn't going to happen), I could give every potential voter in Wabash a glass as a little campaign offering.

By crowding other stuff together, I managed to get the new glasses put away in cupboards and on shelves where they will remain, never to be used, just like all the other good and slightly less good china. As a matter of fact, with just the two of us, Mom and I now have 4 sets of china - the best, the next best, the next-next best and, our new favorite, the least best, which are the paper plates and glasses, so convenient to pitch in the trash when you're done, no washing required.