Grandma's Gift

Welcome to Real Life. Some gifts never stop giving.

“Peggi, can you come over?” my grandmother asked by phone. “I want to give you something.”

I was a young wife then. My grandmother, the once robust matriarch, had grown frail after a recent by-pass operation. As I entered her kitchen, I noticed a box and some newspaper on the counter. She opened a cupboard.

“Peggi, I want you to take my china,” she said. My heart sank. Her china was gorgeous. I loved it. I felt deeply honored. But accepting her gift meant closing the door of an era.

The Sugar Bowl
“No! Grandma, you’ll use these dishes again,” I protested, fighting to keep that door open. Oh, the culinary delights I devoured on these dishes while safe and warm in childhood’s womb. I picked up the sugar bowl. And I saw my younger self in a gaggle of siblings and cousins. We huddled around our treasure on my grandparents’ dining table in the basement. We sucked our index fingers, dipped them in the sugar bowl, and licked off the sweet crystals. Sugar-energized, we stampeded up the steps. My apron-clad grandmother stood sentinel before the kitchen sink, carefully washing each china plate. Mom and Aunt Cathe manned the drying rack.

Christmas Eve at Grandma's House 1966
That's me holding the blue doll.
“I won’t use them again, Peggi. I want you to have them. I know you’ll use them,” my grandmother insisted.

A few months earlier, I hosted my first Christmas Eve dinner. It was a meal my grandmother had always served. This time, she sat a guest at my table. I used paper plates. After dinner, she pulled me close and whispered, “Who made the coffee? It’s horrible.”

“I did,” I confessed. I barely drank coffee at the time. It was my initial attempt at brewing in my mom’s party-sized coffeemaker. My inexperience tasted obvious.

A few days later, the phone rang. “I’m sorry I criticized your coffee,” my grandmother began, “You made a wonderful meal, Peggi. Thank you for having us over.” Her praise warmed my heart. The master encouraging the novice.

Alone, at age twenty-three, Maria Duricova left her small village in Czechoslovakia for America. My grandmother earned her first paycheck keeping house for the wealthy. Perhaps it was there Mary developed an appreciation for quality. Her hands produced impeccable work—cooking, baking, sewing, cleaning. She mastered English with barely the whisper of an accent. From nothing, she built a family, a home, and a position of respect in her community. The china had been an extravagant wedding gift from her best friend, (whom we all loved and affectionately called) Aunt Anita.

Aunt Anita and Grandma on Her Wedding Day

So, I brought home Grandma's china. She was right. I use it—often. Each time I do, I think of her. It may sound silly, but sometimes when I pick up a plate, I caress it. Her hands touched these dishes innumerable times. I feel her close. I sense a surge of her DNA. My dear grandmother's legacy lives in me. And I’m grateful.

Thank you, Grandma! I cherish your gift.
You’d be happy to know. I even learned to make a decent pot of coffee!

Have you inherited a meaningful gift? I’d love to hear about it. Please leave me a comment.


  1. Love your post, Peggi! You are so skillful at telling a story. At my age I now have too many precious gifts from beloveds who have gone on. I especially treasure a fat china teapot with a tiny pink rose pattern, given by my friend Margaret. Originally from England, I met her at my lowest place in life. She befriended me, taught me how to make a proper pot of tea, introduced me to the man I would marry and got me to church for the first time, where Jesus won me with His love. I still make proper tea every morning, I’ve been married to Ron 37 years, and Jesus is the joy of my life. Not just one gift that keeps giving, but many tied to that delightful, brutally honest, meticulous, stubborn, generous red-headed Brit!

    1. Hi Tonia,
      It's great to hear from you! Thank you for your kind encouragement.
      And thanks for telling me about Margaret. I wish I could have met her. Talk about a life-altering influence! You definitely carry her spiritual DNA. :)


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