Kim Henderson: Paper, plastic … or fine china?
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Kim Henderson: Paper, plastic … or fine china?

Jun 14, 2023

WORLD Radio - Kim Henderson: Paper, plastic … or fine china?

Savoring things that will truly last after a daughter’s wedding reception

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is August 11th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.

PAUL BUTLER, HOST: And I’m Paul Butler. It’s been a while since we heard a commentary from WORLD’s Kim Henderson. But today, she comes to us on loan from our editors at WORLD Magazine. If you enjoy Kim’s writing, don’t forget to look for her work there on a regular basis.

BROWN: Today, though, she shares a few thoughts with us worth savoring after her daughter’s recent wedding.

KIM HENDERSON, COMMENTATOR: Disposables have never been high on my likes list. I’m a mom who put cloth diapers on her babies and cloth napkins on the dinner table. So when it came time to plan for our daughter’s wedding reception, the debate went something like this:

Plastic plates? I don’t know . . .Well, they look different these days. Really nice.Who notices what they’re eating on anyway?

This went on for several weeks, me against everyone, including the caterer, who actually rolled her eyes when I mentioned we might want to use real stuff. Yep, that’s how it was going until the one person with enough clout to turn the tide took my side – the bride.

“Of course, I want to use china,” she announced one afternoon within hearing distance of the whole family, as if she’d never thought of doing anything else. Suddenly, it wasn’t just me. It was my daughter and me. And the hunt was on.

It took us to backwoods flea markets, estate sales, and sketchy thrift stores. At a 60,000-square foot picker’s paradise just south of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, a gentleman clued us in on the fact that we weren’t the first event planners to shop his wares.

“What do you folks do with all this china when the weddings are over?” he asked, eyeing the stack of breakables in my cart.

“Sell it to your competitors,” I smiled. He didn’t laugh.

During one of our rummages, a store owner informed us that fine china is making a comeback up North, if indeed it has ever truly lost our affection. She says it indicates a new trend in consumer tastes – one for goods with a nostalgic quality.

Maybe. Most sellers we ran into had little regard for nostalgia. Instead, they sold us their family’s heirloom Lennox and Noritake like it was going out of style (and I guess they thought it was).

One afternoon, it was someone’s grandmother's nearly complete set with delicate gold rims and exquisite hand-painted florals. I felt guilty hauling that purchase out to the car. I could almost see that grandmother as a young bride, blushing as she received one of the plates as a wedding gift. Who were we to have it now? That’s when I started to realize what we were actually gathering in this hunt of ours . . . a collection of other brides’ wedding china.

So in the end, guests who watched our daughter and her new husband make their covenant before God eventually found themselves eating on china with a history—a history of love stories, Sunday lunches, Christmas dinners, and whatever else the filigree and raised edges caused their imaginations to conjure up.

I like to think plastic couldn’t accomplish that.

So when the cake crumbs settled, leaving me 426 pieces of china to scrub, there were no regrets (audible ones, at least). I did sigh a few times. Who wouldn’t after sharing such a quest with a daughter, then ending it at the sink. Alone. Missing her.

But in an age when marriages seem to be as disposable as paper plates, maybe having the real stuff – the kind that requires a bit of extra effort - was a symbolic step in a different direction.

I’m Kim Henderson.

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