Crystal, Porcelain, China, Oh My!

With driverless cars around the corner, we are closer to living in the new world of Judy and George Jetson. With the horse and buggy gone by the wayside, and as technology continues to race forward, some things have run their course with no place to go – like all my mother’s doilies, crystal, delicate china, cups, and saucers to mention just a few.

I inherited a variety of Royal Doulton dancers, patterned floral bone China place settings, and an array of porcelain figurines. I can’t throw them out, and I can’t recycle them. I can’t even take them to Goodwill. This collection doesn’t even begin to include the religious iconology I grew up around. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. I say their names each time I open up one of the boxes in storage because they’re right on top wondering what I’m going to do with them. The second-hand store’s response is thanks but no thanks because it’s going to sit on their shelves, in the same way, it’s sitting on mine.

As lovely as it all may have been at one time it’s not me, and it never was. It was a currency for my mother, and apparently, she had a goldmine invested in the stuff. Glorified dust collectors that she religiously tended to with a damp rag every Saturday morning. Add to that the collection of cumbersome toxic lead crystal she received from what was then, Czechoslovakia, and it’s a dark abyss for anyone hoping to subscribe to a minimalist lifestyle. I often wondered growing up why fresh flowers had such an incredibly short lifespan in those vases. Substantially etched crystal vases, with beautiful and intricate bohemian patterns. Their dust collection ability was as stellar as their toxicity. Dozens of delicate English cups and saucers lined my mother’s French Provincial styled dining cabinet. A visually over stimulating site for someone who subscribes to simplicity.

I sometimes imagine a crystal ashtray showing up at some hipster party. After being passed around with a joint in it, the weed kicks in and one of the free-spirited guests becomes fascinated in how the light is fractured by the cut glass as the spliff gently rests in the ashtray groove and voila it’s cool again. That’s all it takes. One young trendsetter to see the beauty in it with a new pair of eyes. Suddenly postmodern stores are welcoming the stuff. A tangible reminder of what once was. Like a century ago. What I fabricate sadly hasn’t happened yet but it could. I can’t wait until then. I’m running out of space. I open yet another box on the occasional visit to storage and Jesus, Mary and Joseph have turned into WTF there’s more?! Add to that the doilies, lace tablecloths and I wonder what my mother was on at the time.

Her collection was accelerating as she went through menopause. Lace, crocheted tablecloths, porcelain figurines coming out of the yin-yang. It’s a Twilight Zone episode, and I’m living a porcelain/crystal nightmare. I need to eat, and all I have as currency is this stuff, and no one wants it, like shoulder pads and bell bottoms. Who knew these things would devalue as significantly as they have. I’d happily gift it to Liberace or Zsa Zsa Gabor, but they have since left the building.

With women taking the reigns of power the femme fatale archetype is left in the dust with the dancers in ballgowns whose waistlines would make even Barbie jealous. The delicate figurines serve as a testament to a dated female energy. Simply stated, the demographic that supported these decorative items are gone. The fantasy around these conversation pieces dissipated as a new reality not hinged on being saved replaced it. With women declaring their power this now serves as tangible evidence of what once was a collective consciousness but no longer is. Today’s sensibility with a lack of formality, has a modern elegance to it replacing my mothers day of unrequited yearning. My girlfriends whose mothers have passed are in the same place as I am. Saddled with expensive tchotchkes and no place to go.

The horse and buggy that no longer exists are now hauling a bunch of retired china, crystal, doilies and porcelain dancers right behind it.





6 thoughts on “Crystal, Porcelain, China, Oh My!

  1. Julie Cork says:

    I love this! My mother has all those Royal Daulton’s as well as LLadros in her cabinets – they must have signified some kind of status, or something fun to collect back in ‘her day’. She still loves them – but as you said, in this new minimalist world – I can’t imagine taking them on. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Alison says:

    Dearest Djanka, have you actually been in Baba’s house and seen how many Royal Doultons balance so closely together with the crystal? It sounds like you have. We are currently clearing the crochet, tablecloths, linens and clothes to get to said beauties. And there is no place for them to go! Sad. Time marches on and the winds of change blow and we keep up as best we can, until we don’t. I hope not to leave this sort of dilemma for whomever takes over my care. So, I better get to work now!

  3. Suzanne Doyle says:

    I’m there as well Djanka. My mother passed away just over a year ago. My sister and I went down to her home last year and packed up crystal, dishes and many chickens. I put out five boxes of stuff at Christmas so all my nieces, nephews, sisters etc, about forty of them, so they could take a momento home of their grandma or mom. Started with five boxes and ended with two and a bit. Closed my eyes, put them in my trunk and took them to value village. Sad, but I can’t get it back now and somehow I am okay with that. Good luck! Merry Christmas Djanka, to you and Ed and your family.

  4. Nory says:

    Brilliant and so spot on! Our kids have ‘politely ‘ offered to store our china and silver – expressing zero interest in any of it. Talking about this just the other day with a friend wondering what the hell we are going to do with it all. Decided to gift it all to the kids in our Will anyway and let them figure it out – payback time lol

  5. Sandra Kyrzakos says:

    Great piece! What a blessing it is to be the youngest of five girls. By the time it was my turn to receive some of the goods, there was nothing left (not that there was alot to begin with). I’m good with that!

  6. Cynthia Reyes says:

    An interesting post, Djanka. Thanks for sharing. Remarkable how tastes and the things we value change. I fear that it is also our generation that will be leaving stuff for our children who don’t value them. I was saving my dish-sets, only to find that everyone wants plain white, and square.

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