Polishing the Silver

November 14, 2017


My favorite thing about the holidays is polishing silver.  Not because I'm a cleanie, mind you, because my friends will assure you that I certainly am not an ocd cleaner.  However, I do love the accomplished feeling that I get when I know that the silver is sparkling, and I can see my own reflection in it.  There is something about the anticipation of a holiday or special event that makes me all giddy knowing that the china and silver are ready for the table.  

When I was a little girl, Willie Fred, my family's housekeeper- let's just say Nanny, because she wasn't much of a housekeeper- would trick me into helping her polish the silver.  She hated that job more than any other chore in the house.  I would beg her to let me help, and she'd say "Chile, polishing silvah ain't no job for no little chile to be doing, you gotta know whatchoo doing, cause Miss Holley-she hard to please."  I would beg and beg, and just like Tom Sawyer and his fence painting, she would let me help her polish.  I can close my eyes and see Willie's gold tooth sparkle as she smiled watching me polish every single fork, knife, and spoon.  And the trays, don't forget the trays!

 I felt so grown and full of purpose when I would climb up on the kitchen stool to reach the sink with the gooey, pink Wright's silver polish oozing out of the sponge that made my fingers chalky and nasty.  I loved putting the knives and forks down into the warm water to reveal the untarnished silver and how the weight of it felt in my hand.  I would dry and polish it with a soft cloth and put it on the table.  Proud, I was so proud.  I knew that one day, that silver would be on my table and I imagined the dinner parties I would have and the gowns I might wear. I watched a lot of soap operas as a child.

 My Grandmother's pattern is Strasbourg, my Mother's pattern is Strasbourg, and my pattern is Strasbourg.  I married a man whose Mother's pattern is Strasbourg, as was his Grandmother's.  I am probably the only one out of all of us who thinks about how that pattern connects us all.  No matter which table is set before us, the Strasbourg is there- a reminder of holidays, special occasions from the past, and loved ones who have passed on to their reward.

 And just like our crazy drunk relatives that only come around during the holidays, our silver has been a constant. Some pieces might be missing, bent or dirty, but silver cleaning was and is always a reminder to me that no matter how nasty things can get- or how dirty the situation- a sponge, some love, and a little elbow grease can make everything brand new again. 

  Families are messy and dirty, especially around the holidays.  For some reason, holidays bring out the best and the worst in all of us. Like a tarnished place setting of Strasbourg, we can be guaranteed that if we do a little  hard work and look for the sparkle, we might find the comfort that only an old fork or an old friend can provide.  I hope your holiday baking and entertaining will be lovely this year.  Love y'all,

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