When I was in my last two years of high school, my family lived in England, in a small village SW of London. For the first time in my Mother's life, she had all her children in school all day and was left during the days to fend for herself in another new country.
(I can hear her say "Yes!")
In the late 60's while all England was rockin', besides following the music scene, my Mother and I followed the antiquing scene, alone and together. You remember Portobello Road don't you? While my Mother was eclectic in her tastes, she zeroed in at some point on the beautiful green leaf patterned pottery called Majolica.
Majolica is an earthenware ceramic with glazes developed from very early Middle Eastern glazes, united with forms from Spain later, and made popular in Renaissance Italy. The name Majolica is most likely because of the transportation route through the island of Majorca, in the Baleriac Islands, part of Spain.
Victorian Majolica was made by various pottery makers in Britain, Europe and the USA in the 1800's and Wedgewood began making their green leaf and basketry patterns that my Mother collected, and I admired.
During the holidays certainly, I pull out the plates that remain from my Mother's Majolica collection and often serve up a family recipe dessert, all with love on the beautiful plates, with pride. And I smile to myself, knowing the story behind them...the whole story since I've been those heirlooms' keeper.
After my Mother passed away, my siblings and I returned to our parent's home, with all their treasures gathered from their journeys all over the world, and packed up those heirlooms we had asked for and inherited. I very carefully wrapped each plate with packing paper and put them in a couple of carry-on bags for my flight home. This is before 911 regulations.
In the rush of leaving for the airport with my siblings, my Father driving, he backed over the plates that had been left out of the trunk for placement on top of the suitcases. I can feel the bump, bump in the car right now. We all froze, knowing full well what had happened.
My sister got out of the front seat, collected the bag of broken dishes, and silently we rode the short drive to the airport, which was painfully long. Dad took it the hardest, and we all felt so bad for him. Later, on the flight home, seated with my sisters in the same row, we turned to each other and said, "this was a message from Mom."
She wants Dad to slow down and take care of himself. Like the "missing man formation" that the Air Force performs as a jet fly-over at funerals for the military, I later counted the surviving plates which were in the other bag, one of each pattern, including 11 out of a dozen dessert plates. It was Mom's way of whispering in my ear some valuable advice, and that she is represented by the 12th plate, gone but not forgotten. Ever.
So this Christmas, I told this story to my children and friends while we enjoyed squash and pecan pie on these green Majolica leaf patterned plates, as is the custom. Just yesterday I made my famous carrot cake, basically following the best recipe from the Dallas Junior League Cookbook I received from one of my Dad's relatives as a wedding gift. Mom & Dad together again in my thoughts.
You may also notice the "California Ivy" plate in this photo, part of a set of ceramics gifted to me by my also deceased mother-in-law, as well as the pepper mill from the Torino, Italy ristorante called Al Gatto Nero. I still tell the story that my parents absconded with the infamous pepper mill in the early 50s after dining at their favorite getaway. Maybe it was given to them, I need to ask Dad about that story.
Last November my sister and I returned to Al Gatto Nero and found the same style pepper mills in use today. We met the son and his wife of the original ristorante owner and relived a family tradition of stopping by the old establishment whenever in town.
The things that I cherish are the things that remind us of stories... stories that keep telling stories. Stories of family, stories of friends and stories of love. What else is there?
With Love ~ Deborah xoxo