November 21, 2017
I’m one of those people who fuss with tablescapes. I set something up that I think looks fine, even good and within 15 minutes I’m adding or removing things. Sometimes I even take everything off the table or the sideboard and start over. This autumn was no different. I started out with one look, couldn’t leave well enough alone, and through the weeks, I changed it up 3 or 4 times.
Imagine my surprise when, getting ready for Thanksgiving, I discovered something long overdue for the one-way trip to Goodwill. It isn’t as if I didn’t know it was in the Goodwill box, Hello! I put it there. But my mind sometimes conveniently forgets where I put things, and like a child I’m newly excited to re-discover something I’d forgotten about. This time it was the Thanksgiving platter I’ve had for years. It’s ugly. And scratched. Annnd made of Melamine. Oh yes, Melamine. That practical material manufactured in some mad scientist’s lab, something that was hailed as virtually unbreakable (that was big lie) easy to clean (lie again) and the answer to housewive’s prayers. (another whopper).
Melamine…. what’s in that anyway? Some god awful cancer causing ingredient? I don’t know but it’s not in my kitchen anymore. I remember we had lots of it and my Great Aunts were the Melamine queens. They even had ashtrays made of it, which always sported dozens of burn marks from the not-quite-extinguished butts. ugh.
The origin of my platter is lost to my memory, I have a hazy recollection of purchasing it at some big box store, maybe in the 70’s, but couldn’t say when or where. Except that it traveled with us wherever we moved, and ended up in Florida in the early 90’s. I remember when my son was just a youngster and still capable of being amazed by his mother, that platter was brought out at Thanksgiving. It held no turkey, instead it held two roasted cornish game hens with all the Thanksgiving fixings. Trev was so excited to have his very own “turkey,” albeit a baby one, but one that was all his. This little treat was our tradition until he got old enough to figure out Mom had pulled a fast one and what he was eating was not turkey, but rather some strange little bird that may have been chicken is disguise.
He started asking for “real” turkey. It made me a bit sad to give up that silly little cornish hen tradition that we shared. But what are old traditions if they no longer serve us? So we had real turkey, but always presented on that tacky melamine platter. I don’t remember when it got relegated to the the back of the cabinet under the sink, but we discovered it when I was preparing to marry Mr B and merge households. It got packed up and I forgot about it. Trev never mentioned it and perhaps he had forgotten it too.
After he died, I removed his things from a storage room he kept. Where all his important things lived while he moved around. I saved some things for me, the rest was divided between his two daughters and close friends. The platter was in a box marked “kitchen” in his handwriting. In that box I found not only the platter but some special edition Crayola canisters, some vintage cracker tins and a small Jim Beam box. All things I remembered from the past. And as it turned out, he hadn’t forgotten the platter after all.
I couldn’t part with the platter. It held the memories of those baby turkey days, years of real turkey dinners and the days spent together. This past summer I was sorting things again, doing one of my semi-regular purge sessions. (when you have as much crap as I do, those semi-regular purges are necessary to keep a clear walking path through the house. I drew a map for Mr B so he wouldn’t get lost on his way to the bathroom.) The platter was put in the Goodwill bin, awaiting its final resting place with another family. And then……
And then the other day when I was in the midst of simplifying the dining table decor, I crawled into the attic in search of a vase I put up there. I spied it peeking out of the box, patiently waiting. Tail feathers gave it away. Inspiration struck. I told Mr B, “that old thing would make a cute art piece for fall in someone’s home.” He raised his eyebrows and smirked. I read his mind. It read, “Who would ever consider that crappy thing art?” Um……me, I did!! And so my most favorite autumn decor became….you guessed it, that ugly, scratched, tacky turkey platter. Proof positive that art is truly in the eye of the beholder.
It’s found its purpose. It will forever serve as the centerpiece on my sideboard where it displays its faded colors with pride.
What do you have stashed away in your home? What’s in your Goodwill box? Your attic? The basement? Bring out your memories and glory in your history…..no matter how tacky or scratched. My son kept that platter with things that were important to him. Maybe he remembered those cornish hen days after all. I’ll never know. But I cherish the memory of that little boy, face split by a huge smile as he dug into his very own turkey.
Create your sanctuary with your memories, find a way to include your memory makers. Art can be anything. It doesn’t have to match your decor. You don’t have to spend lots of money. Decorate with things that make you smile, that speak to your heart. Your home is your sanctuary. Fill it with YOU.