Dec 26, 2010

Christmas Day, 2010...

How was your Christmas? Filled with family, food, and fun? I am and have always been a a huge fan of family gatherings. Christmas Day was just perfect. We had brunch, lunch, and dinner with our family at three different homes. It was busy, but not too much. 

All of our immediately family on both sides (with the exception of one) live within a five mile radius, which makes for easy family gatherings. 

We were fortunate enough to host Christmas Dinner, and as always, it was a formal affair.  
Here's a little holiday home tour from the Little Lizard house.

The nativity set was a gift we received at our wedding from my husband's former boss. I just LOVE it. Who would think to give a Christmas nativity in the heat of the summer? Very thoughtful, and of course, we think of them each year when we unpack the Christmas decor. 

 I made two of these Christmas banners last year. One to keep. One to share. 

Confession: I am nuts about my china and Waterford. I might purchase every single bit of clothing I wear second hand, and use frugality to an extreme, but I will be the first to admit that Waterford is simply put, my absolute guilty pleasure. Thank goodness for wedding registries!

Everything thinks we're crazy for serving the entire family dinner using items that all require hand washing. For many, the task of cleaning dishes and glassware by hand probably becomes cumbersome over time, but I do not think that will be the case for me. Mr. Lizard does every bit of the hand washing and truly loves the process. Not me. 

One year, the world's best mother in law gifted us a set of 16 nutcracker silverware holders.

 Fancy- Schmancy. 

 Oh - and did I mention that we had a white Christmas this year? It was either the first, maybe second white Christmas of my life. BEAUTIFUL!!!
Can you believe that we received this dining room table as a hand-me-down? The table has two leaves, and comfortably seats ten. We squeezed 12 people around the table on Christmas Day with a duo at both the head and foot. The table did not come with chairs, so I purchased a set of nine on Craigslist for less than 200 bucks and considered that a total score.

This Lenox bride-groom ornament is one of my personal favorites. We bought it on clearance a few years after we were married. It's now my go-to gift for friends who marry during their first Christmas together. 

 Fortunately, every one of my favorite ornaments survived our Christmas tree crashes. Yes- crashes, plural. Altogether this year, we had four tree disasters. One of them was at my brother in-law's home, and all were caused by my little lizard.

Our tree has great meaning and history. It was my in laws' first tree about fifty years ago, and they debated on making the purchase, as it was a huge expense - $12. Each limb attaches individually, and the tree is currently in rough shape - especially after several near death experiences this Christmas season.
Like my car, each year, we wonder how much longer she'll survive; I'm banking on many more years for both the car and tree. Mr. Lizard is not so optimistic. The tree is definitely not going anywhere; we'll perform surgery to keep her going. The car we can live without, but I'd really rather not. My tried and true is going strong on 16 years and here's to many more! 

These stockings are from the dollar store. My mom picked up about twenty stockings one year and then proceeded to monogram as many as possible. Twenty stockings? As if my siblings and I can fulfill her wish for endless grandchildren. 

P.S. The Lizard family didn't purchase a single gift for their littlest lizard this year, and the total cost for gifts for our entire family was under $100. Friends and family were outraged at our "child neglect". If I had to do it again, I'd make the same decision; we are very low key when it comes to gift giving. Spending time together is more important to us than spending money, plus I'm not fond of excessive commercialism. My child is so stinkin' spoiled by everyone else; she certainly didn't need a single thing from us! 

Grandparents are the worst offenders when it comes to spoiling grandchildren. Of course, I think that is part of their responsibility as grandparents. It's written in the manual somewhere. Nana Lizard said she held back, because the store sold out of a couple items she intended to purchase. Held back? Yeah right! I'm just glad we didn't see Nana Lizard unleashed! 

P.S. I posted this story about my grandma's china last year, but for those of you who are new readers, here's the scoop!

When I was about 15 years old, my grandma offered me her dining room China. She always offered me things including jewelry from old boyfriends. When my grandma died, she'd been faithfully married for over sixty years, yet she still had jewelry from former beaus. There is a story we often tell about Grandma going out with three boys on the same day. No idea how she pulled that one off; she was a feisty little thing. Even though Grandma was only 4'10" in heels and wore a size 4.5 shoe, she was a strong, spitfire of a woman with a great sense of humor. Made my grandpa wait for years before she agreed to marry him, yet she was fiercely loyal until the day she died. 

I have so many memories laughing with my grandma. She was an active lady - walked five miles a day until her mid 80s, and she was a shrewd businesswoman - bought her first house at age 17 for $13,000. Never owned a credit card. She went to college in the early 1900s when most women did not attend college. Grandma valued education, and contributed toward my own. (She also paid for the braces of all her grandchildren - and I'm currently negotiating the same deal for my and my siblings' children.) She was independent, loyal, and equally at home in the kitchen, at the sewing machine, and with plants. I miss her greatly. 

At the time, I accepted Grandma's offer of her wedding china, although, I'm not sure why. What 15 year old wants china? Most 15 year olds are ego-centric me-me-me maniacs with extremely embarrassing parents. For some reason, I, in my selfish state of adolescence, accepted her offer with zero thought about the implication, meaning, or generosity of such a gift. I don't even recall looking at the china at the time. 

The entire lot went directly into storage in my parent's attic in several boxes labeled "Grandma's china", and that's where Grandma's china stayed for the next 18 years. In fact, I'd completely forgotten about this china, and when my mom first mentioned it, I assumed she was referring to a couple tea cups. Boy was I wrong. 

Several summers ago, Nana Lizard grew tired of storing the aforementioned boxes, so she mandated that Mr. Lizard and I keep them at our place. (My other grandmother is an extreme hoarder, and my mom is the complete opposite. Periodically Nana Lizard gets the urge to purge. We joke and say that if we leave a coat or a package at Nana Lizard's house, she'll call us and give us twenty minutes to pick it up before it goes in the trash or to goodwill.)  We unloaded the aged boxes from my parent's attic, repacked them in bubble wrap, and crammed them into our jam-packed attic, as we didn't have a dining room. 

During the repacking process, I noticed that the dinner plates were missing. I went into a frenzied search for these plates. What good is china if you don't have plates? You can easily live without serving platters, soup bowls, tea cups, etc., but you can't serve dinner without plates. Grandma had everything. Soup bowls. Gravy bowls. Bread plates. Tea cups and saucers. The list goes on. She had service for 12, which is somewhat ironic, as her dining room table only seated six. Much to my dismay, the plates were nowhere to be found. We searched my parent's attic. We called extended family members to see if 20 something years ago, they ended up with the dinner plates by accident. Nope. No plates. None. No idea where they were. Let's just say, tears were shed. 

After a while, I decided to stop sobbing and do something about it; I went on a hunt. I called and emailed every single china replacement place in the country. I sent photos of the china, and various companies helped me identify the pattern. Apparently, the Noritake china my grandmother was given on her wedding day was made from a pattern that was destroyed during a Noritake plant fire in the 40s. They no longer made this pattern, and it didn't even have a name - all the information was destroyed in the fire. They informed me that the pattern was now dubbed, Noritake N367, and it would be very, very difficult to locate. It could take years. That wasn't music to my ears, but information is a good thing. I got on a waiting list. If anyone sold N367 plates, I would be the first in line to purchase them. A year an a half later, out of the blue, I got an email - eight N367 plates were available! Seriously! I ordered them all right away like a giddy schoolgirl without a second thought to the budget. When the plates arrived, they went straight into the attic for "one day" - the time when we owned a house and had a dining room. One day. I was elated.

We now have the dining room I always wanted, and this weekend, I started unpacking the formal dining room boxes. It was such fun to unpack all the wedding gifts we've never been able to use - Waterford, pitchers, platters, candlesticks. It was like getting married all over again - but without the thank you notes. We plan to host a big, formal Christmas dinner. It will be our first official meal with family using all of our place mats, china, crystal - just like the movies. I can hardly wait! 

During the unpacking process, I couldn't believe my eyes. It took me a moment to comprehend the situation. Dining room plates? Yes. The missing plates. They kept coming, and coming, and coming - all 12 of them. I was dumbfounded. How did I miss these earlier? What had happened? Where had they been? It didn't matter. I started to cry. The set was complete - more than complete. It was a serendipitous gift. I have so many special memories of family dinners around the table with my grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, and cousins, and I hope to continue making memories with family for years to come.

At the time my grandmother offered me the china, I had no idea how sentimental and meaningful it would one day be for me. I had no idea that one day, this china would represent years and years of family history. This china represents every single memory I still have of this special woman and her role as the matriarch of our family. I had no idea what a special gift it was, and now, we have an overabundance of plates. More than we will ever need.

I am so thankful, and somehow, deep down, I think my grandma had something to do with this. Somehow, I bet she orchestrated this entire thing for a good laugh. She was a little spit-fire of a woman. Yep - and a stubborn one at that.

Thank you, Grandma! I miss you so much.

P.S. The linens the china was originally wrapped in are waiting for a perfect project, and I'm  afraid to touch them and uncertain how to use them. 

Any suggestions?


David Deverson said...

Hi all,

Wow,so nice pictures!

Dinner Plates

Harmony said...

What a fantastic story!!
Your grandma and mine must have been related. My GV was barely 4'10", and I have this fantastic memory of me being 12, and her being 70 something, and taking me shopping. I could barely keep up with that woman, and I was a competitive figure skater!!!
My GV was offering me everything she could. I took her up on her Precious Moments figurines. She had so many of them. I swear she must have bought every single one as they came out. She started sending me one every year after that. (I was around 16 at that time, I think.) Unfortunately she didn't get to send me all that many before they had to be packed up and done something with because she had to go into a nursing home. But I love and cherish every single one I have. And I've slowly added to the collection she started to give me. <3

Ticia said...

loved the story! and how amazing that you found the plates.

Mama Pea said...

Great house and decorations! I spent more than usual this year on Christmas, because my daughter was so into it and really "got" Christmas this year. She was so into the Christmas spirit in many ways. Mostly she was so giving to others. But, now I feel guilty about having spoiled her so much. I think we'll be back to more frugality next year.

Lee said...

What a lovely story and I love your waterford. I have some too and adore it. Thanks and Happy New year.