In all of the packing for the Big Move, I ran across these treasures on the top shelf of an often-neglected kitchen cabinet. This was the kind of cabinet where you shove sippy cups and find them 23 years after your children have graduated to cups without lids and miscellaneous water bottles from tennis events with the logos of local businesses printed on the side.
When we were expecting No. 1, living as people with not much money in New Jersey surrounded by people who had plenty of extra to spend, a friend hosted a baby shower for me. It was a surprise, and I was seven or eight months along, I remember because I had finally finished vomiting, and people were relieved to be able to acknowledge the good parts of expecting babies. I got things I would need, like a stroller, a carrier, onesies and diapers, and then I got not just one but two sets of Peter Rabbit dishes, identical sets.
I would have never spent my own money on such a thing at the time, but I was grateful for the luxury. Then I decided to return one of them when the gift-giver told me to return the stuff to a high-end shop in a high-end kind of suburb. I walked in to this store, feeling out of place in my bargain maternity clothes and driving my hand-me-down Datsun hatchback, but I needed more needed things, not china dishes for a baby who would never touch them.
This set of dishes, back in 1987, ran about $50, so I went through the store snatching up blankets, socks, onesies...general necessities a practical expectant mother would choose. And then I found a pair of suede baby boots that had my name written all over them—the name of the baby not yet named all over them.
When No. 1 was born, she had in her collection a lovely (yet useless) set of Peter Rabbit dishes, but she also had plenty of practical clothes and blankets and these adorable boots that went perfectly with the Laura Ashley dress I made for her of green calico fabric and off-white eyelet trim. Now, that's a practical gift.
The set of Peter Rabbit dishes I chose to hang on to? They've never been used yet they appear to be chipped, and I'll keep them until No. 1 says she'd like to have them as her own. They're in storage in the new house where you have never lived, dear daughter, and yours if you want them. The boots, on the other hand, I might keep indefinitely in my little treasure box as a reminder to be practical yet whimsical even in a state of plenty.