— Relationships —

Searching for a Complete Set of Silverware

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In Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving in mid-October. Except for the date, it’s like Thanksgiving in the US. There’s turkey, stuffing, and lots of pumpkin pie. We zhush the décor, iron the best tablecloth, and polish the silver because company’s coming.

In the matter of the silverware, I recently discovered five of my forks are missing. While the rational side of me realizes this issue pales in comparison to conflict in the Middle East or the upcoming US election, my inner four-year-old is quite upset. I bought this flatware in 2003, just after my daughter was born and have managed to hang onto 14 intact sets through six moves and untold chaos. And now, I’m down to nine forks.

The reality is, I’ve lost a lot over the years. I’ve lost a marriage, two houses, a community, and – although I’m working hard to reclaim it – I’ve kind of lost my faith in people.

It’s a lot, all of these losses, and to compensate, I’ve clung to my possessions. Perhaps too tightly at times.

I’ve hung onto chandeliers, antique china and my beloved Fortuny and Scalamandré cushions. I’ve hung onto my grandmother’s green, depression glass candlesticks and the banner that used to hang from the Museum of Modern Art in New York. I’ve hung onto my crystal, china, and flatware for 14 guests, anticipating a time when life would once again be calm enough for dinner parties. Many of these things have been tucked away in storage, and they provide me with tremendous comfort when I set them out.

My inner four-year-old had a full-fledged tantrum when I realized the pattern had been discontinued and the online replacement shops couldn’t even help. On eBay, I finally sourced a set for 12 with several missing pieces. Apparently, someone else lost a few forks along the way, too. I snapped up the set and, as luck would have it, it would arrive before Thanksgiving.

When the package came, I tore it open, only to discover it was the wrong set. The pattern was by the same manufacturer and was similar to mine, but close is no cigar. When I asked the vendor to process my refund, she apologized for her honest mistake and offered me a compromise. I could keep the set that complemented mine, have forks for my guests, and she’d refund half my money. I decided the similar set was better than nothing. Frankly, nobody else will notice.

Going forward, I will focus on what I’ve gained: a new partner, step-kids, new friends, a new home, a new life. But from time to time, I’ll still search for the missing flatware in hope of finding some of what I’ve lost.



  • Sara October 12, 2016 at 9:54 am

    This piece speaks to me on so many levels I don’t know where to begin… but perhaps it explains (justifies?) why I still have SOOO much stuff in storage, any why I’m having mini-meltdowns as I begin to make arrangements to get rid of the old furniture as I transition into a new home at the end of the year….

    • Jen Lawrence October 12, 2016 at 12:18 pm

      Sara, It’s interesting how we get so entangled with our things, isn’t it. For me, they hold so many memories. I find getting rid of some things incredibly freeing, and other things are almost impossible to shed. Best of luck as you go through your process. xo

  • Susan Tolles October 12, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    Jen, I have china, crystal and silver that are rarely used, too. I often think that I need to get it all out in the middle of the week just for fun. But practicality–and laziness–keep us eating on chipped plates and mismatched flatware. My kids are not even interested in my formal stuff. Maybe it’s time to sell it on eBay!

    • Jen Lawrence October 13, 2016 at 9:42 am

      Good idea Susan. There are lots of neurotic eBay buyers out there, like me! xo

  • Esther Zimmer October 13, 2016 at 3:09 am

    Jen, I like to believe I’m someone who’s not attached to my belongings. I’ve made three major moves which involved giving up pretty much everything I owned at the time and starting all over again. However, I’ve been living in the same home for almost 10 years now (the longest I’ve lived anywhere apart from my childhood home) and we’re about to go through a purge and move in the next few months. I’m wondering if I’m going to be as willing to let go of things as I was in the past. Esther xx

    • Jen Lawrence October 13, 2016 at 9:48 am

      I’ve had to be a big purger too as I’ve sold houses and gone into storage, which is why I think I’m so attached to the things that I’ve kept. Good luck with the 10 year purge. I always find these things bring up lot of feelings. xoxo

  • 1010ParkPlace October 13, 2016 at 10:00 am

    Yesterday I retrieved a few more things that have been in storage for 10 years. Seeing them in my new house has changed how I’m thinking about decorating and painting. When I’m at the point where I can get my china and silverware, you bet I’m using the good stuff every day. xoxox, Brenda

  • greendivameg October 13, 2016 at 11:08 am

    beautifully written and i love the perspective! thank you!

  • Elaine October 16, 2016 at 7:20 am

    Jen – I am very sentimental and find great comfort from things I have inherited. I know they are just things but they were my loved one’s things. If they bring good memories it’s hard for me to part with them. Twenty plus years ago when I got divorced, I didn’t want anything. I wanted to start fresh. New furniture, new everything. I only took my personal things and never regretted it. Every room in my house tells a story. Art collected while traveling, family photos and heirlooms, etc. It’s truly my happy place.

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