There’s love and there’s love. Romantic love. Love of friends. Loving our kids and families. Love for things, for art, for beauty. For our furry kids who bark and purr. How we express our love is as different and unique as we are, as individual as the family who raised us. Love is tempered by its nature and to whom we are expressing it, obviously different if it’s romantic, familial or friend-to-friend.
In my family, we show love by giving each other stuff.
We’ve never been a touchy, feely, huggy clan. Nor are we verbally effusive. We do it with things. With clothing, pottery, jewelry or anything else we have. In this generation, it’s often something electronic but still the same. What exactly we give depends on what we have and what might be needed. It’s most often a spontaneous event. No wrappings or bows.
My aunt once (literally) gave me the coat off her back – in the middle of winter in New York because I said I liked it.
You had to be careful in my family. If you admired something you were likely to own it. I admired a stunningly ugly pottery owl that looked like its eyes were bleeding. I wasn’t really admiring it, but was caught in the act of staring. I had to say something. It was a masterpiece of clay sculpting, but a most unfortunate choice of glazes, so I said “Really interesting.” It was, in a ghastly way.
“Yours!” said my mother, obviously relieved to get it out of the family room. I bet she’d gotten it the same way from some other family member.
But the ultimate example of love en passant were the dishes I bought at a trash and treasure barn on a back road in Connecticut during the early 1970s. Most of the stuff in the barn was junk, but with had time and patience, you might find something interesting.
I was poking around in a room full of pottery – I’ve always had a weakness for pottery – when I noticed a set of dishes. I turned one over.
It was Spode. Old. The markings looked to be late 19th century. I counted them. Eighty-six pieces, including a chipped sugar bowl and a set of eight demi-tasse cups with matching saucers. In pretty good condition. Usable. Price? $30. I bought it. I couldn’t buy a set of anything for that price.
They were old, so pretty. But I never used them. I was afraid they’d get broken. They stayed in the closet and gathered dust. Years passed.
One day, my visiting mother admired them. Faster than you can say “Here, they’re yours,” I had those dishes packed and in her car. She loved them, but they were old and, it turned out, valuable. So as I had done before her, she put them away and never used them.
My Aunt Kate admired them, so Mom gave them to her. Kate in turn, gave my mother her set of bone china for 12 which she didn’t need any longer. My mother didn’t need such a large set either, so she gave Aunt Kate’s set of 12 to my brother, who gave my mother his set of china for six. And of course, my mother gave my brother’s dishes to me.
Meanwhile, Aunt Kate gave my Spode to her sister Pearl, who in turn gave her china to Kate. Aunt Pearl packed the Spode away in a safe place, because it was old and valuable. She was afraid she’d break it if she used it.
More than twenty years later, Garry and I went to visit Aunt Pearl. She still had the Spode, carefully wrapped and boxed. She returned it me. She had saved it all that time. Of course, I never used the set and gave it to the kids who put it away in a safe place.
Sometimes, love comes in a box, wrapped in old newspaper, carefully protected through many years. There is love. And there are dishes.
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- Weekly Writing Challenge: Love in the 21st Century (satchi5.wordpress.com)
- Weekly Writing Challenge: Love in the 21st Century (dailypost.wordpress.com)
- Weekly Challenge: If My Heart Aches, It MUST be Love! (iamwhoiamnowblog.wordpress.com)
- Looking for love in the 21st century–or a facsimile of it (artifactsandfictions.wordpress.com)