Eighteen Candles

Incase the title might’ve not dropped a big enough hint, I just turned 18! I can’t determine if I feel young because I’m still ending my age with -teen or if I feel old because now I have societal expectations like voting and ordering snuggies from infomercials. Either way, I’m pretty excited. 

In celebration of such a milestone, my parents suggested (yes, I didn’t even have to ask) that I have some of my closest friends over for a nice dinner, during which they volunteered to dress up like a chef and a valet, who was also a trained butler, to host the evening. Needless to say, it was a very unique evening. 

In preparation for this night, my mom and I broke out the dishes given to me by a woman near and dear to my heart. She has basically been a second grandmother to me and I’m very sure she would consider me to be one of her granddaughters. Sandi had spent the last few decades acquiring pieces of a beautiful collection of dishes, one piece at at time. Her late husband had given her a piece, whether it was a butter dish or a gravy boat, as birthday or Christmas gifts for years, and she had stored them for years. During a good spring cleaning she found the collection and asked her family and friends if anyone would like this rare collection, essentially offering a piece of her life and tradition. I don’t know how, but I ended up being the lucky winner. I knew Ms. Sandi was a classy lady so these dishes couldn’t be atrocious. For all I knew, this was a mismatched gathering of antiquated pieces, chipped and broken, wrapped with a few pieces of newspaper. Honestly, I didn’t care what they looked like. I was met with a surprise that could not have been any more different from my expectations. She opened the trunk of that glossy gold Benz and revealed a treasure to my little eclectic heart: stunning hand-painted blue treasures wrapped individually in layers on layers of paper towels. Not a scratch. Not a dent. Not a flaw. I nearly laughed with excitement. 

So as this birthday dinner was being organized, I knew I wanted to break out the glossy blue dishes hidden in the attic. Between you and me, I have been dying for an excuse to break out both of the bins to see each and every piece, and finally I had my chance! I felt like a little kid in a shiny, dish-filled candy store. We set out each plate and mug, next to the silverware, and it felt like I’d just laid out my buried treasure, taking in the beauty of it all. 

In that moment, as I admired the dishes and traditions held within them, I felt like I was honoring something much bigger than myself. Here I am, all grown up, setting out the dishes given to me by one of the greatest women I know, preparing an event for my closest friends. I felt like I was honoring the people who have stirred creativity and inspiration and taste into my very being, the same individuals who have loved me and taught me what love looks like. The table was adorned with silver that my great-grandmother had passed down to my mom, and the dishes were a mixture of the ones my mom had been given and the blue painted pieces I had been given. There were many generations represented on that long table. It was no longer just a birthday dinner, but rather a celebration of the people who helped me get there. 

As I am now 18, I feel that I’ve learned a few things: 1) Value the words and the stories of the classy ladies in our lives. They are irreplaceable and, like buried treasure, are worth discovering. 2) When you find something you love, don’t be afraid to share it with others, because perhaps they will value it more than you ever could. 3) I see now that birthday dinners are not about celebrating one person, but rather the village of people who loved them every day and helped them achieve their dreams. 4) My dad is a very skilled and entertaining waiter. Who would’ve guessed? Image

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