I go through dozens of Grandma’s collected dishes and glassware, each piece delicate and fine. And my mom has a story for each one:
“Oh, that was the candy dish! If I snuck a piece, I had to lift the silver lid just right, so it wouldn’t make any noise.”
“She set out that dish and filled it with nuts, served with this silver spoon at every church ladies’ circle meeting.”
“She put mashed potatoes in that bowl!”
I scour the Internet for details on the precious glassware, and what I find makes me gasp. Each piece is worth actual dollars! Some pieces are worth several actual dollars! The day I loaded her white Havilland into the back of the minivan, I drove almost as carefully as the day we brought our firstborn from the hospital.
As I set each dish, plate, and cup in their home in my hutch (which was also Grandma’s!), I pause to really look at them — and marvel at what I see. Light and tiny but very much present atop plates are lines where knives scraped across them decades ago. She actually used these!, I think.
That thought strikes me hard because I am a saver. Gardenia perfume I wore on my wedding day? I spritz it on my wrists only on our anniversary. Beautiful teacup from my wedding shower? I haven’t used it since. Crisp white linen napkins, received for our engagement? I only bring them out for Christmas dinner. All these gifts, literally collecting dust.
Most likely, their giver wouldn’t be too happy if they knew their gifts were just taking up space instead of bringing joy on a regular basis. While some things are more meaningful when held onto, the idea of leaving my best things unused doesn’t sit well in my heart.
Because if I can’t bring myself to use the good dishes on a Tuesday night, what else do I hoard and squirrel away? My best listening ear, reserved only for people in crisis. The best of my servant’s heart, reserved for those who can somehow serve me back. The best of my God-given gifts, reserved to the point where they become buried, and I argue when He asks me to use them.
It’s as though we believe the things we save could save us.
“Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or — worse! — stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moths and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.”
Matthew 6:19-21 MSG
I’ve heard it said that “you become what you behold” — wisdom from 2 Corinthians 3:18. What am I becoming if I am holding back the best of my things, and the best of myself — both out of fear?
My grandma never held back. She brought out the good plates and lit the candles on the dining room table for lasagna dinner on Wednesday nights. She always had a full candy dish waiting for us. She never withheld her listening ear or her love. Her warm and wrinkled hands were ready for holding, and her arms were open wide for hugs. She was generous with her love, her time, and her jewelry collection.
There is deep power in loving others, and we are able to both give and receive that when we gather around the table and give our best.
Grandma’s dishes now live in my kitchen cupboards. Over time, I will add to the faint knife scrapes on the plates, so that when my kids go through them in sixty years, they too will have stories to tell.
Story by Anna E. Rendell and featured in A Mother’s Love.
Above is an excerpt from our book, A Mother’s Love: Celebrating Every Kind of Mom, which is full of reflections on God’s heart. Featuring unique and diverse stories from the (in)courage community, A Mother’s Love offers heartfelt encouragement to all kinds of moms, whether they’re a mother in a traditional sense, a spiritual mother, or a mother-like figure who breaks the mold.
This book is sure to help any woman share a meaningful gift with someone who has been impactful in her life, a new mom learning the ropes, or a close loved one facing the joys and challenges of any stage and type of motherhood. Compiled with all women in mind so we can celebrate those who made us, shaped us, helped us grow, and loved us well, A Mother’s Love is a beautiful gift for the moms in your life.
As Mother’s Day approaches, we know that it is a complex day full of many emotions and experiences. Know that at (in)courage, we are praying for each of you in this season as you remember, celebrate, grieve, or enjoy motherhood and what it means to you. Every single woman who loves, encourages, and nurtures those who become part of the next generation is doing amazing work and is to be celebrated.Leave a Comment