We have a buffet in the dining room that is covered in dishes. Not just dishes but serving platters, Tupperware containers, etc., etc., etc. None of these are mine. These are all items that other people have left at my house. I "store" them there in the hopes that someone will recognize them and take them home. I don't remember my mom ever having this problem, but then again every dish of this sort in my house either had masking tape with our last name on it or she would use a black felt pen to mark her territory.
We have always enjoyed entertaining and having company. This began very early in our marriage due to necessity more than anything else but we truly love it. When we were first married, I was 20 and my husband was 22 and we were pregnant. Before we knew it, we had children that were 6, 4, 2, and the new baby. The vast majority of people in our "circle of friends" were just thinking about marriage. We were the only ones with kids. We were broke. We were making ends meet but you could no longer call us at 6:00 pm on a Friday night in September and suggest hitting the new comedy club or going out to dinner. For heaven's sake - where was I going to find a sitter during high school football season? Not to mention that this type of evening used to cost us around $150 and we didn't have that.... So we invited people over. We'd throw a meal or snacks together and play euchre or pinochle or something after the kids were in bed. That was our way of keeping in touch with our friends - we'd just have them over!
Through the years our entertaining has continued and expanded. Whether it's burgers and brats in the backyard for The Jew's birthday party in July, or the mexican theme of fajitas and home-made guacamole for the 11 guys in my fantasy football league at our draft party, or even filet and lobster tails served formally for 20 people from work, we love to entertain. We love having people in our home and sharing our love for them with food and conversation and maybe a little guitar hero for dessert. (Nothing more fun that adults singing and playing drums / guitar after four or five martinis!) Whenever we have these parties, the kitchen seems to be the center of everything. While my hubby and I are prepping, people pitch in to help or bring a dish to share. This inevitably leads to the population of the Island of Forgotten Dishes.
I used to walk past the vast array of fiesta ware and it would make me sad. There were some really nice pieces here and I wished they were mine. We have spent a lot of years treading water in the financial end of the pool.... worrying about "needs" for me and the hubby and then stretching to "wants" for the girls. There wasn't much left after that. It is only recently that I've been able to look at things like table cloths and serving platters and think maybe now I can get some cool stuff for when people come over.... complete sets of things instead of 6 bowls with different patterns because that is what mom or the mother-in-law or the aunt or someone gave us along the way when they were done with it. I was feeling grumpy about my mis-matched sets.
But today I gained a different perspective and it kind of snuck up on me. I was cleaning the kitchen and found a pot with a lid and matching pan that belonged to a friend. As I made room on the buffet for these new visitors I realized where they came from. Last week, very close friends of our lost their daughter. Other friends wanted to do something to help so they dropped off a brisket and bbq sauce at my house and I delivered it for them. These were the pans from that meal. And suddenly I felt the love. I looked around and felt love from the pie pan my mother-in-law brought over on Thanksgiving containing my hubby's favorite pecan cheesecake pie. I felt love from the large oval platter that Bean had brought over a few months ago containing her famous Thai Noodle Salad with Peanut sauce. I felt love from all of these dishes that use to mock me. Because they each ended up in my house by way of people that love me.
Now, when I walk by the buffet, I'm not sad.
I'm actually pretty darn blessed and I give myself a little hug when I see this reminder of the great people in my life.