Today, in early anticipation of the season, I got out my treasured Christmas Tree Spode. For those of you who don't know the pattern, it looks like this:
I have a pretty big collection, as my family adds to it each Christmas, and it gives me great pleasure to eat, drink, and serve from it. I love the day I unpack it, sometime around Thanksgiving, and loathe the day I have to put it away, usually around mid-January when my husband starts getting sick of it. (Or maybe he gets sick of it sooner and just waits until then to tell me.)
Every year as I unpack the Spode, I can't help but remember the year my collection began. To give you some back story, I've loved Christmas Tree Spode ever since I was a teenager and my father started collecting it, based on his own childhood memories. My dad always said that he'd give me my starter set of Spode the first Christmas after I was married. This was a running promise for many years. But he didn't wait that long. Instead, my parents chose to gift me with my starter set the year I was twenty-two and had just moved out of the house. I had just graduated college and started my first job, and I was seriously dating my now-husband. I'm sure they saw me as having started the process of settling down. They were very excited to give it to me, and saved it for our traditionally special "last gift" opened on Christmas morning. I still remember my family all gathered around me as I opened the cardboard box to reveal the familiar Christmas tree pattern.
And I promptly burst into tears.
I'm not usually a crying sort of person, so my reaction, understandably, took my parents aback. I wasn't crying because I hated the gift; I was crying because of that long-standing promise they'd made to give me the Spode when I got married. If they were giving it to me early, it meant that they thought I was a Real Adult. Only Real Adults owned special holiday china. And I didn't feel ready for that title yet.
Years later, I've grown into my ownership of the Spode. I've brought my Spode from a roommate's house, to an apartment of my own, to a larger apartment with my boyfriend/fiance/husband, to our own first home. And today I unpacked it with my ten week old son watching me from the cradle in the kitchen. I'm definitely a Real Adult now, and I'm proud to be one.
The Spode is a symbol of me growing up. But it's just a symbol, and that's why today, in the middle of unpacking it, I stopped for a few minutes to pick up my son and dance with him around the kitchen as he giggled and pressed his cheek against mine. Because it's his turn to grow up now, and he's going to get all the special Christmas memories I can give him.