Thoughts of a Millennial – May 2019

Making The Everyday Special, Like Mimi

My grandmother, Rita, always carried a stylish pocketbook that held her signature red lipstick and powder for her nose. She accessorized from her collection of beautiful bracelets and brooches, and her hair was always in place. For Easter lunches and Christmas dinners, she’d set out fine china place settings with gold flatware, crystal glasses, color-coordinated napkins, placemats and table runners and then cook enough for a family twice the size of ours. She was every bit the “Are you hungry? Did you get enough to eat? Here, have some more” grandmother we’ve all heard of.

When my grandma, who we called Mimi, passed away in February, I spent time with my mother and sister sorting through old photos to find pictures for her memorial. It was healing to see her looking so vibrant and youthful. In every snapshot, she looked beautiful. We talked about how put-together she always looked and how she always made the holidays extra special when she hosted. Even when we would visit her in her last few months, she’d exert her last ounce of energy to put on a fresh shirt and comb her hair before we arrived.

On the contrary, my mom, my sister and I have no qualms about leaving the house in leggings, no makeup and a messy bun. We use paper plates on holidays, and everyone serves themselves buffet-style. My mom made a great point about why: “I miss holidays with her, but I value the time with my family more than washing and drying the china for an hour after dinner.”

Mimi brought us up in a tradition of putting your best foot forward and making special occasions feel special, but something about the world today is a little less buttoned up, prim and proper. We gals are all aboard the hot mess express. We have jobs in addition to being mothers, wives or homemakers. Maybe the three of us are products of a different time, less concerned about bumping into someone we know in town or keeping up appearances.

Now I have a set of Mimi’s china, trimmed in light blue flowers and gold edges, and the gold flatware I grew up seeing at every holiday. I plan to use some of these pieces when we host friends for dinner or our families for Thanksgiving. I agree with my mom about investing her time wisely, so doing the dishes can wait until everyone goes home. My hope is that the hour of washing and drying will be worth it because the effort made everyone who came feel special and cared for—just like Mimi always did so well.

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