Beautiful bamboo designs graced the china in the modern blond cabinet that stood in the long room. A florescent light that hung from the ceiling made the dishes glow as though they were radio active. Fiberglass curtains hung at the windows. The space age design stood in sharp contrast to dishes designed for a beach house in Hawaii. The family sat lined up on a nylon tufted couch and straight backed chairs. Tension in the room felt like ice on frostbite.
Momma and Poppa gave them to me the oldest was telling her two younger sisters. Sonny bought the dishes in Korea and I got a real good price on the hutch at the G&H Hardware Store. You know how Oron can drive a deal like no body’s business. Isn’t that right Poppa?
It had been a long week. The sisters had spent long days doing spring house cleaning for their Momma and Poppa. Tempers may have been a little on edge. The oldest sister had a job teaching…she was the one with the education. The two younger were the cleaners held in reserve for when they were needed. Try as they might, the words of praise for their sisters new treasures caught in their throats. Poppa had said so many times that they would never be good at cards because what they felt traveled across their faces in an instant. By the time the two turned to face the rest of the family, their husbands knew that there was going to be problems.
Nothing was ever said or at least none of them witnessed what happened between the girls and their parents. One sister was given a set of pottery dishes from the local hardware store within a few day…she lived next to the parents so they knew it was in their best interest to appease her quickly. She was insulted at the quality and she exploded in her kitchen. The dishes were returned without another word.
When summer came, the two younger took their parents to Canada where they found two perfect sets of china, place setting for twelve. Poppa thought the exchange rate was perfect and it appeared that everyone was happy again.
The oldest still visited on Sundays with her husband and her parents listened carefully to the hints for new treasures. The dishes had taught them to always select the treasure that they could afford in triplicate. The oldest sister was a fast learner so she calculated the cost time three and waited to see if her parents would bite.
Jealousy between the sisters took strange shape in that family. Rather than ever disagree openly, the messages were subtle and very lady like. In the end though the parents learned that one set of dishes did not mean one set of dishes. They bought everything in triplicate from then on. Every holiday and birthday found three boxes, each exactly the same save for the name on the label.
There is an old saying “The one that dies with the most toys will emerge as the winner.” It was a game they all loved to play!