I began with flowers from my garden. Today it was pink English roses. No longer in peak form, but still lovely and fragrant, it didn’t take long for the room to carry their scent.
While my husband was in the kitchen cooking a Mother’s Day Brunch, I dressed our table with fine linens, and wondered about table settings. I rarely use my fine china. And today, true to form, I eschewed bone white for the antique hand-painted china my mother gave me long ago. I leaned into the dark recesses of the china cabinet to pull out four old, hair-lined cracked blue and white plates. Small dinner plates. Folks, back in the ‘good old days,’ must have eaten smaller, healthier portions. And for brunch, small plates are perfect.
Next stop: the upper kitchen cabinets, the ones so high up they are all but forgotten. Up on the tips of my toes, I carefully lifted out four of my mother’s Fostoria glasses that I’ve had since my mother’s first bout with cancer. It was 1994. Mom thought she was dying. And she was giving away all her treasures. Probably thinking I’d have more occasion to use her prized Fostoria than my siblings, Mom wanted me to have them.
As I washed and shined the place settings for service, I remembered how Mom occasionally went though this same ritual, whenever she was in the mood to ‘put’ on the dog,’ whenever she wished to serve her meal on something other than her everyday china.
Usually it happened when the preachers were coming. “The Preachers’ was what she called her Southern Baptist preacher and his wife. As a kid, I was always thankful that ‘the preachers’ didn’t come often. Having ‘the preachers’ over always meant extra work for us kids — not to mention the pretense of good table etiquette. The house had to be clean — no small chore in our house. And Mom’s Fostoria glassware and Desert Rose dinnerware were always taken out of storage to dress the table.
Never ever was her food any different though. The food Mom served was just her everyday finest, with the addition of some wonderful dessert for good measure. As a general rule, Mom rarely made dessert when cooking for just us. However, when company was coming, dessert was a fixture.
Today, in that same grand way of Mother’s entertaining, our meal was everyday simple. My husband made breakfast tacos and I made Mom’s home-made hash browns. But in keeping with the spirit of ‘puttin’ on the dog’, we had a lovely Strawberry Shortcake with my husband’s scratch biscuits, sweetened with a little sugar.
Setting the table with the good china and crystal and silver is always a little extra work. But oh was I glad to do it, in memory and in honor or two great mothers.