When I was growing up, we had one odd fork in the silverware drawer. All the other silverware matched except this one fork. I don’t know how we acquired this mismatched fork, but we did and no one ever wanted it. There were times when the other dishes were dirty that someone in our family had to use the odd fork. My brothers and I would fight over who had to use and none of wanted to. At some point in that era of life, my brother, who often seemed to have more common sense than the rest of us, began to call it the “neat fork”. From then on, we fought over who got to use it. It switched and because someone thought it was great, everyone wanted it.
I had forgotten that little bit of childhood history until we – after I had gotten married – acquired one mismatched plate somewhere along the way. Instead of ostracizing it, we began to use it for special occasions like birthdays or anything else we could think of. If someone had done something great, if someone wasn’t feel well, or anything else, they got the special plate. It doesn’t come out for every single meal, just every once in a while.
It’s a simple tradition. It doesn’t cost anything. It builds family memories and identity. And it allows our family to celebrate now and then for little things that otherwise may go unnoticed. Sometimes, we let our kids choose who gets the special plate. It’s a simple thing to add fun to dinner times.
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