Grandma’s Everyday Dishes

J & I didn’t register for china when we were planning our wedding seven years ago (though we did register for some pretty funky, seventies-style dinnerware we didn’t–thank the Lord–receive). In fact, it never really crossed my mind to want or need china. Most people I knew didn’t use the set they had because it was too fancy or expensive or was an irreplaceable heirloom.

For the record, I’m not down on china or the people who own it, but I knew it wasn’t really my thing. And since these days I am firm in my if-we-don’t-use-it-let’s-give-it-to-someone-who-will conviction, it’s a good thing we don’t have china. I’d probably have given it away by now.

When J’s grandparents down-sized, however, we were offered their two sets of dishes. One set was the family heirloom sort. That remains in storage boxes a few states away, but someday it’ll make it to our home. The other set was more of an everyday set–but by “everyday,” I don’t mean my everyday.

I don’t, after all, have matching gravy boats as part of my set of everyday dishes.

Grandma Wise’s set* includes plates, bowls, small bowls, mugs and saucers, sugar and creamer (top left), two (yes, two) gravy boats (top right), and salt and pepper shakers (closeup, bottom-right). As our housemate A says, the salt and pepper shakers “are possibly the coolest things he’s ever seen.” We also have a tea pot, a platter, two serving bowls, and a casserole dish with matching lid.

We originally unpacked the plates and bowls to use for our monthly community potlucks–we didn’t want to keep using plastic or Styrofoam, and we didn’t have enough of our other dishes, which, besides, are ridiculously huge, heavy things, to account for the average American out-of-control portion size. Grandma’s set, dating from the 60s, is much more reasonable, and when combined with our own dishes typically is enough for everyone to have their own plate. (Shared plates would really be community, wouldn’t it?)

Grandma’s is currently a set of twelve of everything, except the saucers, which number 16. My mother-in-law told us recently that another box of “the green dishes” had been discovered in an attic or under a sink or socked away somewhere, so who knows how many or what we’ll end up with in the end.

So we use them at the potlucks. We used them at Easter. We use the bowls for cereal in the morning, because they’re the perfect size for oatmeal.

Some folks seem surprised that we actually use these dishes. “They’re your Grandma’s??” they ask. “Aren’t you afraid they’ll get broken?”

Actually, I’m not afraid they’ll get broken.

I’m sure of it.

But we’re going to use them anyway.

I, for one, like to think that Grandma Wise would want us to.


* If you’re curious, the green pattern is “Romantic England” by a defunct British company called J. & G. Meakin. Each piece has at its center the drawing of some “romantic England” place–the small plate in front of me right now depicts the 13th century Penshurst Place in Kent, for example. And the salt and pepper shakers depict Salisbury Cathedral well enough that I recognized its memorable steeple from the picture.


4 comments on “Grandma’s Everyday Dishes

  1. stephen says:

    I love hand me down dishes. We’ve been buying new dishes at goodwill lately. As we have more and more community meals we need more place settings. We do have a few honored pieces from grandmas but they are serving pieces.

    Glad you are enjoying your funky set of dishes.

    • elizabeth says:

      Isn’t it nice to need more place settings? 🙂

      I think the most attractive tables tend to be mix-n-match, but that might just be how I roll.

  2. Marigene says:

    I have one piece in the olive green, the bread/butter plate…what I wouldn’t give to find a whole set of these dishes! Use them and love them, even if you chip a few.

    • elizabeth says:

      Thanks for the encouragement, Marigene. They are lovely dishes, and even lovelier as hand-me-downs from Grandma. We do use them a lot. The bowls are perfect cereal bowls!

      So glad you found us–thanks for stopping by!

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