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My Most Cherished Material Possession

A dear friend recently asked me:

What is your most cherished material possession? (Could be something you have currently, or had in the past.)

I thought for a moment about what to choose, how best to respond. I am awfully fond of and rather attached to my iDevices, which is always more then a little bit amusing to me because I was the epitome of a non-technology girl a few years ago. I didn't even own a cellphone or a computer of my own until after I was married (8 years ago). Now, however, they are a more then essential part of my every day life. I should join a support group, really. My name is _____ and I am an iDevice addict.

Then there is my camera, words can not begin to express how much I adore my camera. I have always loved photography and have "an eye" for it, or so I'm told. Whatever dinky excuse I had for a camera, has always been taken with me everywhere. Capturing hundreds, probably thousands of shots of everything and nothing. It sometimes drives my friends a little batty. Though I am far from a professional photographer I was recently gifted with a not at all inexpensive Canon EOS 60D. *sighs happily* Yes, I am well aware of how lucky I am to have such a beautiful piece of equipment with which to record moments and memories, believe me.

There are also a few other things I suppose I could have named: cherished books, valued photographs, my journal ... But upon a brief moment of reflection I realized that while I love, adore and value all of these material items they are all, for the most part anyways, replaceable. (The journal would be difficult, but the thoughts and memories are still lurking somewhere in the recesses of my mind) So then, what one physical item did I own that had such value that it was not replaceable for me?

My china.

Not the answer you were expecting was it? Lets be honest, if you know me at all you wouldn't really think of me as a "china" type of girl. A klutz to the core and a feminine tomboy (as my mother likes to put it) delicate china and I don't really seem like the best of "fits". Both of my iDevices and their uniquely mosaic patterned screens bear testament to my clumsiness. Also, I am not really one for anything too fussy, or too patterned or too girly; to be completely forthright I hate almost ever other single china pattern I have ever seen - but I ADORE this one.

It is a very simple, very pretty pattern - nothing overly ostentatious. Delicate pale pink flowers, with tiny blue sprays of buds and slightly trailing stems of leaves. I have no way to accurately describe it. It is a set of Royal Grafton Fine Bone China, made in England, the patterns name being: Summer Melody. I'm sure if you were to google it there would be a picture.

I have the full set, everything you could ever want. I don't know all the correct names for all the pieces but it includes the following and more: 12 place settings of dinner plates, soup bowls, salad plates, dessert/bread plates, 12 tea cups, 12 coffee cups (yes there is a difference and the coffee cup is by far my favourite), matching tea and coffee pots (yes the coffee pot is also my preference above the tea pot), serving dishes with covers, platters, a gravy boat, a soup tureen and the most adorable pair of salt and pepper shakers you have ever seen in your life. Yes, really they are, take my word for it!

Okay, so I love my china - so what? Why is that my most cherished material possession? Couldn't I also just replace it, like I could my other favoured possessions, were something to happen? NO. Not really, actually not at all - it's irreplaceable in my mind. Aside from the fact that it is a discontinued pattern, it is the memories associated with said set of China that makes it supremely valuable to me.

To say I had a troubled childhood is being more then kind. There are not many good memories, and not many actual possessions which survived to today. This china is one of those things.

It was a gift that my father, an abusive alcoholic who often thought material items could make up for "things", purchased for my mother while we were living in Germany. I won't go into the details of what happened - but it necessitated a large repayment in his mind. Thus the china and a beautiful pine shrank to house it was hastily purchased.For the rest of my childhood the cabinet full of china was an ever present fixture.

We moved back to Canada from Germany and it all made it in one piece, though a whole other crate of possessions went mysteriously missing.

We lived for a year in abject poverty, I'm talking no running water, no electricity, the tiniest of shacks to live in (I will provide pictures if you doubt me), in the "bush" in northern Ontario - but the china and the cupboard were there and had a place of honour. They were also the first things moved into the house my father was building once it had a roof and windows in place.

It was only ever brought out on special occasions ... I remember large family dinners with juicy roast beef and garlic mashed potatoes, tender sweet carrots, savoury gravy and the yummiest Yorkshire puddings. (It's still my favourite meal to this day!) These memories, of relatives visiting, of laughter and of having a more then completely satiated tummy are amongst some of the happiest I have.

When things finally came to a head, and it became absolutely necessary for my mother to leave my father, lest our lives be ended. We did not take almost anything. One day, with the help of some close friends we quickly packed (more like threw things into bags and suitcases) what we needed and fled. My mother was not going to take the china, but someone convinced her, a friend brought a truck and some boxes and it was the one thing that was carefully and lovingly packed up.

When even having moved into the small town nearby became not enough and we again needed to flee for our safety, this time across the country to another province, the china went with us. A small car, packed to the brim, no room to even move but it was there, pulled on a trailer that was probably far too heavy for the vehicle in question.

Our lives after we fled were less then ideal. My mother often had to work 2 or 3 jobs. We required the support of social assistance and low income housing. There was almost never enough money, or food, or clothing even. The china, she would say, was our ace in the hole. If we needed to, she would sell it and we would survive. She almost did, at least a half a dozen times she began to make inquiries into it's value and how to go about marketing it, in order to help supplement our finances, but always found a way to "soldier on" without doings so. (I'm not really convinced that it would have been worth that much anyways).

In time, after several more moves, things got better. The china, and it's now somewhat yellowing pine shrank was always there. It managed to make it across Canada a few more times without a single piece being broken, well, almost. After it's last move, to my mother's current home, my younger brother dropped something on one of the coffee cups and it now has a chunk missing - but we have also have said chunk.

Somewhere along the way, a running inside family joke developed about the china and it's value as an heirloom to our family. It was said that I would get it one day because in the past, the good china always went to the eldest daughter, and the land to the son - the other children were screwed, lol. We had not land to speak of, so my brother was out of luck there, and my sister, being the middle child was the one who would be "screwed", but there was china all that mattered was it would be mine. (Trust me, it's funnier if you know my family.)

The thing is, it was always a joke, and though I adore it - I never actually expected to get it, until of course at a time in the future when my mother, who is still quite young,  would one day passed away. However, a few years ago, shortly after I was married, my mother surprised me by actually giving it to me. She came out for a visit, with all these puzzling boxes - especially puzzling because it was to be a short visit and she had to drive across two provinces, almost 14 hours to get here - during the winter no less. It was the china, it had once again made a trek across the country, now to reside in my home.

I don't have the china cabinet, though she has offered it to me, but I really don't have a place for it in my house. For the china, however, room was made in the cupboards with great alacrity. A foodie and cook at heart, I have more then my fair share of "valuable" kitchen gadgets - they were quickly dispatched to shelves in the basement pantry.

Now I take it out on special occasions, and large gatherings with friends and family. We too consume dinners of juicy roast beef and garlic mashed potatoes, tender sweet carrots, savoury gravy and the yummiest Yorkshire puddings - during evenings filled with laughter and are creating some of my new happiest of memories. Well, happy for me anyways, I think everyone else is slightly terrified by my constant threats of how I will cut their heart out with a spoon if they damage said dinnerware in any way. (Why a spoon? "Because it's dull you idiot, it will hurt more").

So there you have it, the china, MY CHINA. It's one of our only family "heirlooms" and my most cherished material possession.
Hongruilin Hongruilin 31-35, F 13 Responses Dec 4, 2012

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Awesome. Mine is my car. I'm *cough* 46 *cough* and I'm still driving my first car. I've had a couple others since for different reasons. But my mother gave me that car... I've fallen in love in that car, driven it daily, missed it while I was separated from it.

*giggles at the coughing* ... Very co that your still driving your first car. Mine died on the side of a road in the country one hot summer day full of way too many teenagers. Lol

I love this...I think that for many of us the most cherish material possession is actually one related to a memory, a person or a moment that has marked us.
It is an object with emotions attached.

I love how you described the life of this china set...your life.

I agree, an object with emotions attached.

Thank you for taking the time to read and comment my friend, I'm so glad you enjoyed it. :-)

You always have a charming way of sharing your life experiences in a way that makes them universal ...

Aww. Thank you sweetie. I think that's a rather lovely compliment. That is after all, the goal of most writings/writers, that something they pen be readable and relatable by many.

*huggles*

You certainly have this ability.
Huggles

1 More Response

So ...As usual, you have made me think... What is the one "thing" I covet - I have a few old photos of my Family, we lost my Mom in '86 and my Dad and older brother in 2000 and my best friend (a man I spent more than 20 yrs calling "brother") in 2006. The photos of these people would be the "thing" I covet. Thank you for another window to your heart

You're most welcome. Anytime. :-)

So have you done anything special with those photos?

No I can't say I have... I have posted the on FB so the rest of the family, immediate and extended can enjoy them... But not the way you mean

Well at least you then have electronic copies of them should anything ever happen.

When I set out to comment on this story I didnt know how to start. Partly because it made me laugh and cry and the tears made my eyes sting and now its hard to type! lol..Damn you H!! ;) Can I admire your writing any more? You always surprise me and your stories draw me in and let me walk around in your memory. I feel like Ebeneezer Scrooge with ghost of Christmas past walking through memories and watching them unfold. I did google and saw the pattern. Its lovely indeed. And yes, I was surprised at first with you saying china, but after reading the story I sooo get it. Its a very warm memory and I love it. And thanks alot! Now im hungry for a meal as you described! ok..my eyes are better now. Im glad you wrote this. Its one of my favorites of yours...xox

*huggles you tightly*

I'm so glad you're enjoyed it sweetie, thank you for the lovely comment and for having taken the time to read it. I'm terribly sorry about your eyes. Lol :-P

Omg ! Trust you, to write this story ! And I mean that in the best way possible ... As in 'Of course .. Someone I already know, and someone I feel very connected to ... Is speaking for me ' .
You already know that I have the same camera ... And you already know that I hold many things dear to me .
The funny thing is , I don't have the China .. I have a ' can opener ' and some cutlery that mean a lot to me .
When my Mum died , I made sure that I kept the very things that reminded me of fun times , things that made me think of her .
They wouldn't have any dollar value .. but I keep the can opener in my bedside table , just because I can . ( not because I need to open canned goods in bed ! Lol )
I loved your story .. Thanks for sharing . Xxxx

*laughing*

Thank you happiness, and you are most welcome. I\'m so glad you can relate to this story. We do have a lot in common, and many similarities. I\'m so glad to hear that you have some things that remind you of your Mum and that you hold dear in a certain way. No matter their dollar value, they are important and to be cherished. It\'s the memories that are important.

And come on, you totally know you keep a stack of cans on that table to just open in the night when the urge overtakes you. lol. ;-P

*huggles*

Lol .. Thanks Hon .
You\'re right , there\'s nothing like a can of peaches at 3 am !

I read a book once , called \" Objects Of The Dead \" . It\'s full of lovely stories from people who hold close to them simple objects that remind them of lost love ones . It turns out that I\'m not the only one who cherishes an old can opener !

Those peaches will get ya every time! ;-)

And now I have to go look for that book. Sounds really cool.

What a beautiful and kind of sad story my dear friend. So truly touching, making it easy to see why YOUR CHINA is so precious to you.
Love the way you write, telling YOUR story. :-)
By the way, we use that line all the time...
"Why a spoon, cousin?" "Because it's DULL you twit! It'll hurt more!" Lol and always said with the proper accent.

*laughing* ... of course you do! :-P

And thank you dear friend. It is precious to me, and I love having it and this story.

That and...\"No blades! No bows! Leave your weapons here!\" Lol

I love having you as my friend and that you have it and this story to cherish.

Lol. Love that line too!! :-)

*huggles the heck out of you*

Imagine that! Lol :-)

*huggles the heck outta you too*

:-)

2 More Responses

<p>I was just dotting around on the internet, looking up different types of vintage china, tea sets, etc, and I came across this. I don't know why, but something made me read your story even though I realized quickly by the title it wasn't really about the pricing of an antique tea set. I started crying. Although I can't say I have ever been abused (my Grandma can get a little verbal, but never anything like what you went though I'm sure), I felt relatable to you, all because I know what it's like to fall in love and hold something very close to your heart that others might consider silly or worthless. I'm seventeen, I grew up without my father - he is a good man, but he made bad choices and was taken out of Canada (his papers had expired) and sent back to Argentina. I have on his side two elder half sisters (they have the same Mom), a full younger sister, and two younger half sisters that I learned about a few years after they were born via Facebook. My Mom did everything for me and my sister, on the day I was born when I was in the care of nurses, she went to the hospital gift shop to find something for me to cuddle with or keep me distracted (I was a VERY lively infant) she came across a very soft plush rabbit with a plaid-like black and white/checkered dress and a bow, her eyes are black (brown rimmed) glass beads and her nose rose pink thread. At the time they were extremely popular and heavily mass-produced, so no one thought of it as anything special. But from the time I had her, my mom would always say "Aw, isn't she Fluffy?" and though I had many stuffies, as I called them, which I loved and cherished, she was always my favourite and my best friend. With how soft she was and how we cuddled, eventually she just adapted the name Fluffy. Through the years we found two identical Fluffies (I named one Custard, no clue why since I've never eaten it, and the second name slips my mind...) and a male version that rather than a head bow has a farmer-styled hat, who I named Andrew - again, no idea why. Through the years, Fluffy was my best friend and anchor, she's sitting here with me now. I named my pet rabbit I had once after her (even though she was silky, not fluffy), and I experienced a lot of bullying and pain throughout my school life, from kindergarten to the tenth grade. I was a sad child despite my wonderful family. Fluffy was with me through it all, for seventeen years she's protected me from nightmares, theoretical monsters under the bed, and soaked up my tears and muffled my cries when I didn't want anyone to know how much I was hurting. She's been sewed up a lot from all the holes she has, her colours are faded, and I loved her so much that her fur became rough and she started falling apart, her limbs are loose from the stuffing knotting up inside, and her threads are loose. She's gotten bruised, stained, and thrown around, has been through the washing machine and on the clothes line more times than I can recall, and yet I can't bear the thought of ever losing her. She's always been there, and if I had to say, she would be my most prized possession (the plush Starfish my father got me being a second, and third being a pair of faux diamond earrings my mom graduated in, and a bronze pendant & archery ring my father forgot with my mother). Yet still, she was with me through all the bad, and yet through the smiles and happiness. So I can say I understand your love of your china set. It's almost unexplainable, but... it's your memories, and in a way, your family. It's part of YOU. I didn't mean to take up so much space with all of this - I made an account just to respond, though. But your story moved me the way things rarely do anymore (I've become rather jaded by life and feel very apathetic to most things people would find sad), but I just wanted to let you know that I think you're very strong and your story is beautiful.

Dear, dear, Alunabelle,

I have to thank you, so very much, from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to create an account just so that you could respond to my story. I am so unbelievably touched and honored that you would put forth such effort just to let me know how my story moved you. I could ask for no greater compliment then that and you honestly made my evening. Thank you for your kind words.

I also have to tell you, that just as you started crying while reading my story I sit here with a tear stained face after reading yours. I am so unbelievably sorry that you\'ve been dealt the hand you have with life and it has left you, as you put it, \"rather jaded\". Trust me when I say, I know what that feels like, especially at your age (i suffered from bullying as well). Also, please trust me when I tell you that life, it\'s beautiful and worth it, and there is much to be hopeful about in it. I know that\'s not why you wrote this, but I just felt the need to tell you that.

You said you thought I was very strong, I have to tell you that I think the same of you. Your strength and intelligence shines through in what you\'ve written.

Thank you for sharing the story of Fluffy. It\'s such a wonderfully special and moving story. I\'m so happy that you had her to be there for you through all the good and the bad, to dry your tears and comfort you when you felt like no one else was there or would understand and to share in the happiness as well. I\'m glad you still have her and you recognize her value.

If I could offer you one single piece of advice: don\'t ever get rid of her. No matter how tempting or juvenile she may ever seem to you. Keep her, cherish her.

Thank you, again, for writing this and absolutely no apologies are necessary for the length. You\'ve touched me and inspired me tonight.

*huge huggles*

H

Thank you so much, Hongruilin, I have to say I really did not expect you to reply to me. I had assumed that you had posted your story quite a while ago and that the, \'forum\' so to speak, was dead. However I noticed you had when I was logging off and read it over, I wanted to reply but I had already stayed up way too late (about two thirty in the morning) but I promised myself I would remember to reply to you in the morning. I considered just privately messaging you - although I didn\'t know if that was an option as I had never seen this website before, but it came up that you had privacy settings on yours so I simply decided to just respond here. I normally don\'t admit that I have Fluffy in my bed with me every night - my little sister has a similar story with a bear named Teddy, and although she wasn\'t bullied at school she suffered in her own ways (it\'s her story to tell though, not mine) she and I often used our stuffies to play games. We would act them out as families, pretend they were brother and sister, secret lovers, boyfriend and girlfriend. To us it wouldn\'t matter whether they were related one game and dating the next - because we loved them so much we sort of bonded over it.

I just wanted to make sure you knew I really appreciated your words and they touched me deeply. So thank you, very much. :)

You are most welcome sweetie. Anytime.

I always try to respond to anything anyone writes on one of my stories, no matter how long ago I wrote them. It\'s so nice to know when something I have written resonated with or affected someone in some way. I\'m so very touched that you took the time to let me know this did.

I do have privacy settings for contacting me, mostly for underage people, as you have to be careful with stuff online, especially on a site where anonymity is key. For me it\'s just a personal thing. I\'m cautious. So sorry you were not able to PM me.

I\'m just very very happy to have been able to read your own story and to know that you were touched. Believe me, you had quite the effect on me as well. And I want to thank you for that.

*huggles*

Hi there, I was just doing some research on how much a complete set of bone china is worth (the pattern is summer melody). That is when I came across your story. My husband and I purchased it when we first got married 30 years ago, in England where we were stationed. I am german my husband US citizen. And my story is similar to yours, every time we really come into a hardship I am thinking about selling my china. Unfortunately mine is in a box and has been for the past ten years. I have only used 2 dinner settings one time, on our 3rd anniversary. My china went from England to Germany and then to the US. But anyway we paid roughly $6.000,00 for ours 30 years ago. So this gives you an idea of how much money it is worth, the sentimental value for me is priceless. God bless you and your china.

*smiling*

Thank you, so very much, for taking the time to write a response to my story. It made me smile to read that someone else out there has a similar story to mine, and how you came across my story. I really love my china and it's history. I'm only sorry to read that you ave no used yours more often. I know it's something that is no longer "in style", fine china on special occasions etc, but I try to make opportunities to use it. For me too, the sentimental value is worth far more then the actual cost - though it is interesting to know roughly what the price of purchasing it would have been.

*hugs*

I now have to take a look at my own 'possessions' and know what is something is very meaningful to me, that I've become attached to, an extension of me.

...I can't think of, or find a damn thing. Which means I'm so glad you have something that connects to you, that is some part of YOU in a way, that you cherish and has such a History behind. I'd like to have that with something, that very special thing that just reminds me of who I am and just grants me that Power unlike any other. That image that even if I do lose it somewhere down the line, just the image of it in my mind is enough to keep my resolve and continue moving forward.

Thank you much for sharing. :)

I always enjoy reading your thoughtful and heartfelt comments on any of my stories. This one was just as delightful as the rest. Thank you, very much.

I continue to adore my china and fine solace in it and what it represents for me, the cherished memories it is tied to. Until now,though, it had not occurred to me that in a sense it did have a power, and that it does help me to continue moving forward, but essentially that is what it does. So thank you again, for giving me reason to pause and reflect and appreciate.

*huggles*

That is one of the best stories I've read on here. You actually made me cry a little. So sorry to hear that stuff about your dad.

Thank you so much for the compliment, I'm touched that it touched you in such a way. As for my day, again thanks, but its okay. :-) *hugs*

Beautiful story! I love the detail; I could readily and really feel your passion for that china set; It's actually quite inspiring to hear how it survived some tumultous times in your life. It's only one o'clock i know, but i think this story has officially made my day! Thanks:)

I just noticed your comment, thank so much sweetie! I'm glad you liked it.

Such a wonderful story, and the telling more than did it justice. I love that true "value" almost always unrelated to monetary worth. Thank you for sharing this one.

Your welcome my friend and thank you for the kind words in response.

Wow, what a story. So very detailed. More similarities to my sister here: your love of photography, old photos, and journals. Things she loved a lot. And even your writing style is much like hers. That roast beef dinner really made my mouth water, lol! Funny line about cutting their heart out with a spoon. What the villain said in Robin Hood! I remember that line!

*smiles and laughs*

Yeah, I tend to prattle on, the "devil is in the details" in my mind. Heaven forbid you don't completely understand something without my telling you every last thing that happened, haha.

I am not surprised to hear you say that there are yet more similarities between your sister and I - I think she and I would have easily become very close friends.

Lol, why am I not surprised to find that you knew exactly where that particular line/quote came from?!

Yeah, you would've loved her for sure :-)

That's actually a movie my brother is a fan of, but I watched like the last half of it with him once and when I heard that line I just laughed my *** off!

I haven't seen it in years, was a tiny bit obsessed with it as a teen - and that was my favourite line, and is probably the only one I remember and still quote.