Give Thanks is a daily series of posts through November that chronicle what I’m thankful for. The format is a big deal on Facebook or something.
My parents have had the same dishes since 1986.
That timeline might be a little fuzzy, but that’s what I imagine because they’ve been there, hanging out in stacks in one dark corner or another of our home’s kitchen cabinets, for as long as I can remember.
The dishes are white, thin, with a row of delicate blue flowers dancing in a circle along the edges, as if they’re about to drift right off the plate, bowl, cup and drift slowly, pleasingly to the ceiling.
I’ve seen these dishes other places in my many adulthood travels to Salvation Army. It seems many people had these dishes; their commonplaceness is a favorite example of mine of how life has changed since I was a kid–my current set of dishes belong to a lot fewer people because we have, like, 30 choices of dishware designs to choose from at Target alone (next season’s stock will add 30 more to the rotation and so on) and I will replace them with a new set in a few years anyway, whether because they were cheaply made and need replaced or I am fickle or bored or desperate to make a choice about something so minute but tangible.
It’s kind of like how every middle class, small town child of the ’80s dug through these things for sugar and flour and beans:
(Your childhood, on sale at eBay for $54.99.)
I imagine the life of a spoon sucks. When finally pulled from the drawer from which it is assigned, it is only to be mercilessly dunked in something repetitively. Pudding to mouth to pudding, and such.
If these spoons could talk…
One’s first few years away from the nest are rife with observations of the nest you used to be too close to to really understand or appreciate. My freshman year of college, I learned to appreciate our spoons.
For all the loyalty my parents had to our dishes, the spoons in our house are replaced often (like scissors, they disappear fast and reappear all at once but when you do not need them). But spoons are essential. For the spoon is what makes the sound that I learned to associate with home. The spoons tink with a righteous but quiet intensity on the bowls that have been here for so long. Crying out for help from their sacrificial dunking?
Their sacrifice is appreciated, because I know that sound. I love that sound. It woke me up for a few seconds–twice a day–nearly every morning for years. Once when my dad was eating breakfast, always before the sun broke through the clouds, as he got ready to leave to milk the cows; I imagined his Quaker Oats soaking in their milky bath, already wrinkly. Then, a few hours later, mom would be the maker of the tinks. She eats faster, the tinks rapid and set off in short bursts.
Maybe that’s because mom was eating oatmeal, which requires a different style of scoopage, but I think it’s fitting that I remember their tinks this way. Dad: methodological, steady. Mom: fast, effective.
The sound of the spoon on sides of the bowls meant they were both awake, patterns intact. And I was home, safe, warm.
Yesterday was a long one. Like any reasonable, tired 27-year-old, I turned to a new vice for comfort. Free Jr. Frostys. My grandma gave me a coupon book for, like, 10 or something of the free treat. The spoon was, again, essential for enjoyment maximum.
While I considered not taking a disposable beige one from the Wendy’s counter and just using one from home, my memory of what it’s like to eat a Frosty quickly squelched any such betrayal. The plastic ones are the best! They don’t get cold like metal spoons and it’s as if the deep dip in the provided plastic was scientifically engineered to best catch and release the melty chocolate goodness all over your rough day.
Calm, said the spoon. Remember home, warm, said the spoon. You are loved and things will get better, said the spoon. I love free Frostys, said the spoon. Fucking eat this awesome shit, said the spoon.
So, thanks, spoons of all shapes and sizes. I’m right there in your silent corner… with Salad Fingers.