Hope and silver

I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth, but I’m pretty sure I received one or two as gifts before I had any awareness of what a spoon actually was.

It was the custom in my family to start giving silver flatware to little girls as soon as they were born. There was no question of choosing your pattern; you got what your mother had, and probably your grandmother, too. This continued through childhood, so if you were a really lucky little girl, your Christmas and birthday presents would usually include a fork or two, or maybe a couple of knives. You can imagine—especially if you know me—how thrilled I was.

The intention was that by the time you were ready to marry and lay a table of your own, you’d have a full set of good flatware ready and waiting to be added to your mother’s when she passed them down. So what I see when I look at this picture is my parents’ expectations, just as shiny and new as they were on the day they were presented, never opened and yet unused.

Because as it turned out, on special occasions I use a different set of silverware that came down from another relative, and only when we are more than 12 at the table do I dip into my birthright to fill out the number needed.

And so most Thanksgivings I find myself face to face with my family’s hopes for me once again. I take them out, inspect them, appreciate them, and put them away again when the company leaves and the house goes back to normal. I don’t really use them, but I can’t get rid of them. That’s how it is with expectations others lay on you. I keep these rolled up in a plastic bag, deep in the cupboard that holds assorted serving dishes. What would my parents think if they knew.