Zero to Hero Day 3: Lamenting the loss of china cabinets



People don’t use china cabinets anymore.

Now in the scope of crucial world issues, that ranks right up there with things like the disappearance of front porches.

This only came to mind when I was putting away the china tea cups Monday night after Sunday’s season premier of Downton Abbey.

My glass-fronted oak furniture holds a treasure trove of historic items . . . things that mean something to no one but me.

On the bottom shelf is the leaded glass scotch decanter with matching glasses that could be used successfully as a murder weapon. For years it held a good measure of Dewars, until I decided that it was probably so full of lead poisoning that it would be unwise to consume and threw it out. Still, the collection sparkles and reminds me of my husband. It was pre-marital property. Before he developed diabetes, he used it for teaching my son bar tending skills. These days he avoids anything that doesn’t mix with his medicine.

The old china cabinet also holds a photo plate of the farmhouse my father was born in. That’s on top of a set of eight clear glass hostess plates with little raised circles for the cups that match. This collection is from the June Cleaver days when women had other housewives over for coffee and finger sandwiches. I may have used them once, pre-motherhood, for someone’s baby shower. They just sit inside the cabinet collecting dust.

Then there is an entire collection of Johann Haviland china that used to get cleaned off and used for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It came from the grocery store–a plate or server at a time–with the purchase of $25 in food, until voila, service for eight! That is, until some of the pieces didn’t get packed properly and broke in our last move. Like an idiot, I actually got on ebay and ordered a replacement gravy boat. Every woman needs a gravy boat, you know. Remember gravy?

The rest of the three sections on top of this monster that required two grunting men to move includes little odds and ends that came from a lifetime of collecting and inheriting. This piece has unique slats in the middle to slide in wine glasses, which tinkle sweetly against each other when some Big Foot stomps by.

The bottom cabinet is where our old liquor hides, along with tablecloths, leftover china and silver-plate so tarnished it would lead to an illness if used without polishing.

So, there you have it . . . a ginormous thing that required us to find a house with a formal dining room in order to keep. Similar to the requirement for a master bedroom big enough to accommodate a king size solid oak pier unit with dresser and wardrobe.

Before retirement, I could not understand why our son and his wife did not have, or even want, a china cabinet. Their wedding china (white and black polka dots) all fits nicely in their kitchen cabinets. And the thought of collecting any items like the miniatures that reside in my old printer’s drawer, or the resin dolls that have their own glass front curio cabinet for a home, would make those kids nauseous.

Lately my husband and I have been discussing moving to Florida or downsizing to a patio home. That leads to questions of whether to move the china cabinet and all its contents, or just leave it for our son and an estate sale.

That piece of furniture is probably a has-been and may need to be sawed in half and repurposed as an entertainment center. But it’s a symbol of a disappearing lifestyle and might bring a small fortune in an antique store in a few decades, so we’ll probably just hang onto it and its contents.