“The truth is, things matter. They have to. They’re what we live with and touch every day. They represent what we’ve seen, who we’ve loved, and where we hope to go next. They remind us of the good times and the rough patches, and everything in between that’s made us who we are.”
The Things That Matter
If you have ever been to my house for a holiday meal or a dinner party, you were likely greeted by a table that looked a bit like the picture featured here. I do not do paper plates. Yes I am an environmentalist, but that is not the reason. I come from a long line of Southern women that believe in plates. We have plates for every season, and if possible every holiday. I am not just talking about Christmas and Thanksgiving. I grew up with my mother decorating our table in festive colors and themes for Easter, the Fourth of July, and even Valentine’s Day. My grandmother has her own collection of china and dishes that make us all wonder where she kept all those plates for our family for so many years, hosting gathering after gathering. Plates are things that definitely matter in our family.
I have no idea where the insanity originated. I fought the power of the South for many years, really I did. But, alas, the ladies of Texas won me over and I have now begun my own crazy collection of plates. Yes, I admit I am now in possession of three different kinds of Christmas plates. Thus far, I only have room for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and what we shall call “normal time” plates. I really have no justification for the obsession. There are people without anything in the world and I have enough plates for a small colony of people. But, when I heard Nate’s words in an interview something struck me. The plates connect me to my mother, my grandmother, my godmother, and all the women in my family. They may not be their plates, but they have bought them for me and managed to instill a love for the ritual of creating beautiful tables and a “dining experience.” My plates connect to me to a Southern tradition of many women who believed and still believe that bringing people together around a festive table has power to enliven and perhaps even heal the soul.
I am sure that over the course of my life I will break many of the plates and maybe even get tired of packing them up and moving them around. I don’t know what will happen to all the other plates we collectively have together. What I do know, however, is that when I look at, use, and serve meals on my plates, in my home, they signify so much more than ceramic and paint. What are the “things” that connect you to your family? What do you surround yourself with that brings a smile to your face as it reminds you of the love someone has for you? What is it in your house, apartment, or bedroom that stares at you, taunting you just a little bit as if to say, “The South will rise again!”
I am grateful to Nate Berkus today as he reminded me of my love of design, beautiful things, and ordered existence in my home (which currently escapes me!). His words reached deep into my psyche finding that essential truth that our things, our belongings are an expression of our journey. I hope you take a few minutes today to treasure your own things and be grateful for how they represent the many facets of you and your life. Perhaps one day I will be graced by your presence around my table and you will have the opportunity to experience some fancy plates and if you’re very lucky a place card with your name on it! Here is to all the things that matter…