Orange Juice

“These are for orange juice.” Mrs. Clark said as she pressed a wrapped box into my hands and said her goodbyes to my Grandma.

Brent and I had only been married a few weeks, when a sweet friend of our family had dropped by to bring a wedding gift. Her husband of more than 50 years had recently passed away and she was navigating those difficult waters without your constant companion for the first time.

I honestly expected a small orange press and was perplexed when I carefully opened the gift to reveal a box of four crystal flutes. The kind you would use when you served a fancy dinner for a special occasion. The kind I was certain we would not be using throughout our frugal student days, and certainly not once we had children. These were glasses that would reside in a cupboard next to the wedding china we had registered for, to be used when we were financially secure enough to host a dinner worthy of them.

For the first several years, the crystal did make sparing appearances. Our first anniversary. To celebrate graduating college. After finding out we were expecting a viable baby after a painful miscarriage. The glasses were carefully packed up from Idaho to California, from apartment to home.

It took me sometime before I finally grasped the meaning in her words. I was dusting the glasses and our china, preparing them for an upcoming move, when I began thinking about Mrs. Clark and her words to me that morning. I remembered the look in her eyes – so full of wisdom, full of tenderness known only to those who have lost their greatest love, full of hope that what she said I would understand. The miracle in her message was that every day with my spouse and my loved ones was worthy of the very best. She didn’t want me to hide those glasses away in a cupboard, as a visual reminder of just where everyone stacked up in relation to those glasses. Were there accomplishments worthy of recognition? Were they worthy of the glasses?

The pain of that realization hit me like a train. Every day we had to wake up and enjoy breakfast together was a good day. Every day spent loving and learning together, strengthening our marriage, enjoying our children, our health, the small and big things that occur on a daily basis – all of it – was worth celebrating.

In the ensuing years, our china and our stemware has made a frequent appearance at our family dinner table. Gathering with us as we recognize the importance of being together.

Only one of those crystal flutes remains. Its edges are chipped, but its stem is intact, so it is lovingly washed after each use and placed back in our cupboard. The other three endured years of service. Celebrating life’s big and small events, used by guests and children alike. Toasted and tipped. Each small chip represented an opportunity to teach my children that people are more important than things. That they are worthy of my very best. That I cherish and celebrate them. And though only one of the original ones remain, I’d like to think that that’s how Mrs. Clark intended it.

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