Of Glass Plates and Other Unused Gifts

January 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

Rainbow soap bubbles sparkled on the clear glass plate as the winter  sun shone through the kitchen

Pass the Plate

Pass the Plate

window. I held the art deco handles, rinsed and wiped the flower-shaped plate and wondered. Wondered about the woman who had owned it before me.

I found it on a crisp November Saturday in Barron, Wisconsin when my sister-in-law and I stopped at an estate sale at a yellow one-story house on a quiet street. “Everything’s half off today,” said the antique store owner who was managing the sale. I walked through the house picking up clues. She must have been Scandinavian. Stainless and pewter serve ware, crisp linens, familiar patterns. A cheese serving set from the 50s in the original box with a Marshall Fields tag on it. Pink budded cups and saucers. Many items looked new or very lightly used. Some were obviously gifts she had never taken out of the box. A green and white chenille bedspread in perfect condition. A gilt mirror and brush and comb. Unused handkerchiefs and boxes of linen stationery tied with ribbon.

There’s something  sad about  strangers wander through a home, picking up and discarding, evaluating and critiquing  treasures the owner had kept and valued but perhaps never taken out of the box. Were there no children to value what their mother had or to want to keep some remembrances of her?

I walked out of there with a box and a bag. Some to keep, some to give to a daughter who particularly values the 50s. And I came home with something else. The resolve to keep on using what I have and what I have been given.  I want to take my gifts out of the box and give them a good go. Use them, pass them around, give them away. I want my gifts–what I am, what I possess–to wear the lovely patina that comes from loving interactions. Scratches and dents may result, but at the end my life won’t be one that was unused, unrealized and left in a box.

(c)  Inger Logelin 2014

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