I was raised having meals on unbreakable Melamine plates with a fruit pattern in the center. With five kids in the house, my parents were understandably worried about breakage. My mom always brought out her Haviland (Pasadena pattern) china for Sunday dinner, though. My daughter Hannah has it now.
When Andy and I married in 1969, we chose something very contemporary for everyday use (see photo). My very traditional mother was absolutely horrified, saying she just couldn't imagine eating scrambled eggs served on black plates. Of course, when we had our first breakfast at home, we had to call and tell her how amazing the eggs were.
By the time our kids were born, some pieces of the Circle in the Square china had gotten broken or chipped. Andy bought me a set of white Mikasa china with a spray of green foliage and a few little flowers. (We did have one mishap, where the little plastic bracket that held the shelf failed and sent some dishes crashing to the counter.) Not once did we consider Melamine, which also brought comments from my mother, saying that she couldn't imagine the kids being careful with them. They were eventually replaced by a set of beige stoneware.
With kids out of the house, Andy and I went to Pottery Barn and bought a whole new set of china, this time in four deep shades to mix and match. My mom thought it was much too heavy, and why didn't we consider Corelle, like they had. It was well loved, but eventually we culled the damaged pieces and gave the rest to our son. They were replaced by the same chunky Sonoma pattern, only this time in ivory. After many years of service, this set had begun to chip and break, so we returned to PB and bought a set of pretty stoneware, most likely our last. This morning, with a sigh, we packed up the undamaged Sonoma (no longer available) plates, mugs and bowls for the thrift shop.
I think men tend to remember to phases of their lives by the cars they owned, but I remember all the sets of dishes we had, the family meals that were served on them and where we lived at the time. These are happy memories from 50 years of marriage, serving meals to lots of guests, three children and now three grandchildren.
I'm Chris Barabasz, retired from a 35-year career managing communications for health care development (that's fundraising for you civilians). I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer. My husband Andy and I moved from Delaware to Texas to be closer to our daughters and three adorable grandchildren.