I was just putting dishes away and noted that we are at that weird point where our current collection of cups and glasses is the remnants from many different batches. As they break over time, we are left with a bizarre hodge-podge which looks like it all came from a garage sale. I am tempted to throw the lot away and start all over, except that my wife seems attached to those odds and ends. I can only guess that something in a mother’s DNA recognizes what sets one cup or glass apart from another in the crowd. She feels it a pity to throw them out. It might explain why children actually survive up to age eighteen notwithstanding the difficulties of teen years and beyond. They survive because someone swallowed hard and bowed to personality.
I looked the cups and dishes over and realized everyone in the family is complicit. There is my big Jesus Coffee Naps mug that I like because it’s a good size for coffee in the morning. My second daughter favours the ladybug mug, and there is even one mug from a pottery set we received as a wedding gift. In our mismatched collection, we also have a partial set of old lady style tea cups passed on by my mom - a series of provincial flowers that I think came one at a time from Reader’s digest. We don’t much like old lady cups, but they are remnants of my Mom so they get to stay.
Each piece has a particular history. Also up on the shelf we have the famous princess plate which I will give one of the girls as a gift some day. They will remember it as the one they fought over when they were really little, the battle over who would get to be princess. I bet whoever gets it will frame it and put in on the wall - or maybe even pass it on down to the next princess in line.
I think most households are like this. They are not a batch deal, but a celebration of individuality compiled over time. I am reminded of this every Christmas when we trot out ornaments from thirty years and counting, remembering every particular ornament attached to a year and what that year was about. It’s a collection of bits and pieces that live on in our family memory. Others would see this as a hodge-podge, in need of replacement with a uniform set sourced from one place with a common theme or colour.
I have been in some of those staged homes realtors set up. They lack charm. They don’t look like real people lived there at all, because there is no particularity and there are no remnants of personality. They just have glossy lineups of bland stuff, that look sterile as an Ikea store and nothing like a real home.
Our mismatched cup set is an indictment of our family habits, just or unjust. I suppose all those odds and ends earned their place in the family and push come to shove, I’ll take them as they are rather than pretend.