Wake up. Shower. Get dressed – check. Feed cats – check. Feed chickens – check. Feed and water chicks – check. Water greenhouse, open gate – check. Check. Spot cows on road – sigh…. Get Randy. Get Range Cubes. Prepare feed bucket – check, check, check. Get cows back in yard, try to herd them back in the gate, scream “Get out of my Garden!” – check. Finally get them back in the pasture. Check the time –it’s only 7 a.m. Put out hay. Check fences. Get inside to get muffins ready for Kathleen’s visit. It’s going to be a Dogwood Plate and Silver kind of day… (sigh…)

I come by my love of dishes honestly. From as early as I can remember, my Aunt Dot had a wide assortment of dishes – from every day to fine china. And the best part about it is, she used them, as often as possible. When she passed, I inherited the fruit dishes and the Dogwood dessert set. My sister Amie inherited the chicken dishes, and my cousin Scottie got the Holly Hobby set. I can’t even begin to tell you how many more she had, that went to various people. I think Mark ended up with the Fall Leaf set of china, and I got both sets of silver.

I also have my own sets of dishes. Years ago, Amie made me a set of every day that has a pink sponged rim and a sponged heart in the middle. I love those dishes. One year my aunts Dot and Emily and I had gone to Target in Longview, Texas, and I spotted a set of Debbie Mumm Snowman plates, with matching utensils and serving pieces. I now own place settings for 12. Twenty years ago, when Pier One was going out of business in Shreveport (and has subsequently returned), they had a basket set of solid white dishes for pennies on the dollar. I bought one basket, which included place settings for four. I also grabbed black plastic-handled silverware for a quarter a setting, to match. I also have my mom’s china, Dot’s milk glass plates and several other sets. My next goal is Fiesta Ware in all the bright colors.

It always saddens me to see beautiful dishes that are stored in a cabinet, and only used as display. They are tucked lovingly away, and if anyone goes within three feet of the cabinet, the owner begins to have heart palpitations. Why is that? I mean, I get that some of the pieces that are stored away are priceless to the one who owns them, but the true value in dishes are the memories they help to make and the spirit boost they give when used.

Around here, the fruit dishes are symbolic of family, friends and holidays. Dot always set her table with them on Thanksgiving, and now, when it’s my turn to host that wonderful day, I follow tradition. On Christmas, and on into New Year’s, I use my Snowman dishes. The other sets are paired throughout the year with napkins, napkin rings and placemats or tablecloths to celebrate my guests. And when things just really blow up around here on the farm, like this morning, I give myself a little boost by pulling out something fun. I not only will get a smile out of it, but it will also show Kathleen that I consider her a special friend, and well worth the ‘good’ china.

Are you a one dish family, or do you have multiple sets for different occasions? What are your favorite? Feel free to share your stories about a meal you shared with your family or friends, and the dishes that sparked the memory!