In 2000, my partner and I moved into a new home with very few belongings. We had donated or given away most of our furniture and large possessions prior to embarking on a six month renovation of our new abode. Once settled, we were faced with furnishing our new nest. We began shopping in earnest and quickly agreed we did not want our home to look like we had pulled out a catalog and ordered pre-assembled rooms. To our delight, we discovered estate sales! Over the next two years, we slowly furnished our home with unique vintage pieces and a few well chosen new ones, and were very pleased with the results.
One of our most prized finds from our estate sale forages was a set of 16 place settings of china in pristine condition, including the coveted completer items: creamer, sugar bowl, and gravy boat! Neither of us had ever owned fine china, and we felt privileged to be the new custodians of this set. And, best of all, this wonderful treasure was only $100!
With great care and precision, we carefully unpacked our bounty and arranged the pieces in our 1930’s mahogany buffet, placing a piece of foam between each plate and saucer to prevent scratches and chips.
Over the next 16 years, we used our china often — dinner parties with friends and family, holiday open houses, game night, quiet dinners for two in our formal dining room (on a Tuesday night no less!) and Christmas brunch. I loved unpacking each piece in preparation for the event, and even found myself savoring the time spent hand washing them afterward. I thought I would never own any dish or utensil that could not take a spin through the dishwasher!
Earlier this year when we sold our home and downsized to a condo, we carefully sorted through our belongings and donated or gave away numerous items and retained just our favorites, including our beloved china. I carefully packed each piece in bubble wrap and boxed them up for the trip to our new home.
After living in our condo for five months and having used our china just twice, we began to question if it was time to allow someone else to become the steward of our beloved set. Several times each week I would come across the set stowed in an upper cabinet on my search for some other kitchen device. I increasingly began to view the set as 85 pieces of clutter rather than 16 place settings, gravy boat, coffee pot, creamer, sugar bowl, and serving platter.
Upon returning home from a week’s vacation at the beach, we decided it was time to part with our china. As I carefully packed each piece in bubble wrap and set it in a plastic bin, I smiled as I recalled all the times we had eaten from the plates or sipped coffee from the delicate cups and saucers. Recalling key lessons from Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I silently thanked the set for all its service.
I also patted myself on the back having realized that our beloved china was an amazing investment and very eco-friendly – our $100 purchase amortized over 16 years resulted in an annual cost of just $6.25, less than a few sets of disposable dinnerware!
As we dropped off the three large plastic bins at the neighborhood charity center, I smiled as I thought of the joy and fond memories our set would soon bring to its new stewards.