That made me start thinking and usually when I start thinking I end up blogging.
My great-grandma, Olivia Gardner Egbert had desert rose plates.
After she died, my grandma, her daughter, distributed them among her seven children. She said the plates were to be "special plates" to be used for celebrations.
Thus The Special Plate was born. Whoever was celebrating a birthday ate off The Special Plate. My mom had it for Mother's Day, my dad for Father's Day.
Once we were having a group of guests for dinner and my mom passed around a plate of steaks. My uncle Drew said, "Is it the steer's birthday?" (My mom must have run out of plates with all the guests and used The Special Plate for the steak...also, by way of explanation, sometimes people that grew up on ranches see a plate of steak and think steer.)
Everyone at the table got the little joke. And it gave me a cozy feeling inside. As different as our family was from our uncle Drew's family (and we were different), we had a shared history, a shared tradition, a shared grandmother and great-grandmother, and we each had a Special Plate.
Once I saw a desert rose plate in an antique shop.
I snatched it up.
Then I found one for each of my sisters.
Several years ago, I returned home from Women's Conference at BYU (and unless you're a man, you should be going to Women's Conference...it's fabulous). My children must have missed me (although they're always counting down the days until I leave and they get to be with their dad) because they wanted to make me dinner when I got home. I had to go upstairs while they carefully set the table and made me toast. (Their culinary repertoire has since expanded but not by much.) I was upstairs, sequestered, waiting for the surprise and I heard a tremendous crash.
It was The Special Plate. Broken. On the floor.
I had two thoughts: (1) how sweet that you wanted to give me The Special Plate to honor me coming home and (2) rats, you broke The Special Plate!
Adam glued it back together but I, for one, don't want to eat on a glued together plate.
Is glue edible?
But look what I found in one of the wonderful antique stores I love?
Family traditions counter alienation and confusion. They help us define who we are; they provide something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing world.