Serendipity, Sentiment, and Silver Spoons
A few decades ago, my mom handed down the family silverware to me, as in the silver-plated ware that belonged to her mother and father. The box, which had a red velvet interior and been refurbished on the outside with several layers of contact paper–the last being a brick pattern–gave me more memories than the mismatched utensils. I can remember my grandma and grandpa (or Ma and Pa, as most everyone else called them) pulling out the contact-paper-covered box for holiday dinners and special events.
I have very few objects that have sentimental value and, I’ll be honest, the silverware set(s) isn’t one of them. My mom’s gesture means more than the gift. The memory of my grandparents pulling out the box is what makes me smile.
I know my mom gave the silverware to me because I was close to my grandfather, Leo. Between me, my grandparents, and mom, the silverware has lived in Minnesota, Nevada, California, Maryland, Washington, New York, Florida, and Washington, D.C. Since I’ve owned the silverware, it has gone unused. Sad, right? Before me, this silverware was well used and cared for, not buried in a cardboard box.
In December, I unpacked the silverware and sent it to five family members who would find it priceless with sentimentality.
The largest matching set went to my Uncle Rick. Someday, he will share it with my cousins, Jennifer and Jason, who I grew up with and who shared a special connection with our grandparents.
The large serving spoons were sent to my oldest brother, Ken. Ken has an ever-growing extended family that shares a large community dining table. The table was built specifically for their house. The spoons were meant for him. For them.
The second-largest matching set, I sent to my sister, Sandi. It is safe to say that if my sister could clone anyone, it would be our grandmother, Leona. Sandi is a grandmother now, and I can see Leona in her. When Sandi received the silverware, she sent me a text.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR MA’S SILVERWARE. I’M LITERALLY SITTING HERE CRYING.
Two spoons and two butter knives, each, were sent to my brothers, Tim and Steve. In their cards, I wrote, “I can imagine our grandparents stirring their coffee and buttering their daily pancakes with these very utensils.”
Tim sent me a text: THIS GIFT … YOU DON’T KNOW HOW MUCH THIS MEANS TO ME.
And Steve texted also: IT’S THINGS LIKE THIS THAT MAKE ME FEEL GOOD.
Can you guess who is crying now?
My uncle and siblings have memories of our grandparents touching these objects, caring for these objects. There is a deep sentimental value for them. For me, it’s the connections and memories that I cherish, and now I have new memories with my uncle and siblings.
One more thing about silver spoons; I had a Carrie/Teri Tiger Drive moment during the above process.
As I sorted the silverware, I recalled a benchmark moment in my life. I was mere days into my freshman year of college and was working as a receptionist at the College of Business, UNR, between classes. A woman came in deeply distressed that she didn’t get any scholarships or enough financial aid, and she was angry about it. I understood her frustration. After all, like Carrie from my novel, I had scraped my way off Tiger Drive, not learning until the last minute that I had enough money to go to college like a “normal person.”
While the woman seethed in the waiting area, she glared at me with disgust and said, “Look at you. You have it made. You were born with a silver spoon in your mouth.”
And you know what I did? I smiled. It was the first time in my life that anyone’s first impression of me was that I had it made, and I felt liberated. I’ve had it made ever since. I’ve made sure of it.
What makes you sentimental? Or what was a benchmark moment in your life?
As always, thank you for joining me today and thanks for being you.