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How I’m Using My Wedding China

By Renee Langmuir December 01, 2023 Lifestyle

As I was setting my table on Thanksgiving, I performed a familiar ritual. I released my wedding China from its lofty hiding place in the kitchen, along with the captive silverware in its sturdy wooden chest. It occurred to me that these plates and cutlery have had an illustrious history.

Where the Story Began

When I was 19 years old, and unaware that anything untoward could happen in life, I chose the Lenox “Modern Profile” and Steiff “Williamsburg” patterns. At the time, when so many in my cohort were getting married, there were two destination stores in Philadelphia: J.E. Caldwell and Baily, Banks and Biddle. A young, betrothed woman could examine row upon row of China and silver patterns. That is how my two companions in life were chosen.

Being quite fortunate in my path up until that moment, my in-laws purchased an entire set of Modern Profile for 12, including the necessary serving pieces. My parents purchased the 100% solid silver place settings, surprisingly affordable at the time. My 19-year-old self and both sets of parents envisioned years of shared holidays, dining on this fine array.

As you well know, such fantasies never come true. Yes, the dishes were whipped out like clockwork for about eight years. But then, the plot changed drastically. At the age of 29, my husband was killed in an avalanche on Mt. Rainier.

A Continued Use

At this moment, I’m wondering why I held onto the dishes. All sad remnants of a life which-was-never-to-be were removed from my house: his clothing, our skis, secret mementos, and any other sad reminders that the future we envisioned would not occur. The dishes and silver remained, along with his tiny daughter!

A bit of fast-forwarding is in order. A new husband eventually came onto the scene. There were 18 years when I was married to a very good man, who kindly adopted my daughter, and we added a new little brother. He brought a large, loving family of about 9 new adults and ever-increasing numbers of little ones. These new relatives enjoyed the China and silver at the holidays for many years.

Uncontrolled fate again surfaced when various circumstances, some from the original tragedy, and some unrelated, caused that marriage to end, but the dishes and silver endured.

It was now time to parade out our finest when my daughter brought her partner’s relatives around. There were two significant families through the years. Again, new introductions to Ms. Modern Profile and Mr. Williamsburg. Sadly, both of those families moved on after her relationships ended, although the dishes performed an encore recently when we met her new husband and his family.

The Tale Continues

It is now 51 years since the original marital purchase. The dishes and silver look brand new. I do not! As mentioned, I have been a widow, remarried twice, raised two children who are well on their way in adulthood, and have hosted a passing parade of “family” in my home for the hundreds of holidays between 1972 and 2023.

I was not enveloped with sadness when I set out the place settings this Thanksgiving. Instead, I was awed by the reminder of the resiliency I’d developed through the years, all due to the many adaptations needing to be made to the unexpected events life inevitably proffers. I also know that everyone in my stage of life has done the same.

I’m feeling welcoming and grateful for all those guests who, by unpredictable circumstances and chance, happen to be around my table. I also feel a kinship with the plates and forks that have accompanied me every step of the way!

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Do you have any possessions which evoke strong memories? Have you ever been tempted to either eliminate or preserve any items from the past because of their emotional significance?

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Patti Lang

‘Twentysomethings’ getting married today do not want China and silver. I have my own, my mother’s and my grandmothers. I’ll probably donate some too.

Ginny Phillips

I have a number of pieces of china that were gifted to me by my mother, mother-in-law and others many years ago. I use them at special meals and times of the year. and with each routine of getting them out to use, they evoke such a happy nostalgic feeling. It’s amazing how an item can bring back such happy memeories of people and occasons.


I was given a beautiful set of bone china and some lead crystal from work colleagues, it was from a very expensive London department store when I got married in 1986. Unfortunately it was rarely ever used and I am not a fan of patterned lead crystal so I eventually gave it all to a local thrift shop that raises money for a cancer charity. I thought that was a far better purpose than having it packed away in a box.

I now keep a large set of plain white china, wine glasses and flutes in the basement for special occasions and dinner guests, it came from a bargain homeware store and IKEA. Worthless but very useful and it’s no big deal if a piece gets accidentally broken.


I should also say I have pieces of glass, lamps and other items in my apartment dating back from.the 50s to the 70s that my mother bought and a small apple shaped glass dish and table linen that belonged to an aunt who died 2 years ago. The little apple dish was bought by me for my aunt’s birthday when I was 10 years old and I asked my cousin if I could have it after she died, she was 97. These are things I will never get rid of as I love them.

I use my mother’s old Pyrex mixing bowls from the 60s when I cook. It makes me feel cheerful thinking of her using them on wintry Sundays. My mother passed away suddenly at the age of 61, a few months after retiring. I was 19 and am 62 now.

Sherrie Dukes

Beautiful journey!


Yes, I feel that way about photographs of loved ones that have passed on. I want to throw most of them out.

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The Author

Renee Langmuir was an educator for 34 years in public schools and at the university level. After an unplanned retirement, Renee chronicled her transition in a series of personal essays on the website, Her writing has appeared on the websites Agebuzz, Next Avenue, Forbes and in The AARP Ethel Newsletter.

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