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  • Betty Girardeau

It All Started With a Single Thing


It is interesting how some Christmas traditions get started. We started sending Christmas gifts each year to my husband's oldest cousin the first Christmas we were married. That gift exchange is still alive and well despite the fact that this year will be the third Christmas my husband has been gone. Over the years the gifts varied from year to year, but in recent years has become a gift from her to me of a gorgeous live Christmas wreath, and I send her wonderful cheese from our local cheese dairy farm. But sometime back in the 1970's John's cousin started giving us Spode Christmas tree mugs. I think I have at least eight of them now. But those mugs started me collecting, and using, special china to use from Thanksgiving through New Year's Eve. At first I just started adding more Spode Christmas tree dessert plates. They were easily found at one of the outlet stores in Williamsburg that my sister and I would go to on our, then annual, Christmas shopping trip. At some point Dansk opened an outlet store in one of the Williamsburg outlet malls and I fell in love with their Christmas dinnerware and started collecting it. At that time our parents were coming from New York State to have Christmas with their daughters and families. One year they would stay at my sister's house, and the next year they would stay with us. The year that we were hosting our parents we would not have to host the big family Christmas dinner. Even after our Mother died and our Dad was no longer traveling to Virginia to share Christmas with us, my sister and I kept up the tradition of sharing alternate years hosting THE dinner. By the time I moved to Tennessee we had enlarged the family, especially my sister's side, with spouses and grandchildren. I think I have about eight place settings of Christmas dinnerware now. It has been used here in Tennessee, too, for several family Christmases with my children, their spouses, and most recently, grandchildren in 2016, as well as a Christmas luncheon I hosted for my Board members when I was the Rarity Bay Women's Club president. But just because I have not hosted a family Christmas or other large Christmas function in four years does not mean that this dinnerware is collecting dust. Even if I am doing it just for myself, I get out these plates, bowls, and mugs and use them everyday from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day. Doing so makes me feel good and reminds me every day of happy times spent in past years with my greater family and friends. It's amazing how something so simple as a single gift of a Spode Christmas tree mug years ago has grown to become part of a tradition that makes my every day life during the holidays still so special.

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