Some time ago, I came across a post which intrigued me: Which Lord of the Rings Personality Are You? I’d heard of personality types and tests, but dismissed them as a lot of nonsense. But The Lord of the Rings? They had me hooked there!
Now, if you’re not familiar with The Lord of the Rings you might want to check out the books or movies before reading further. Or better yet, just look it up. That would be a lot quicker since they’re all epic length!
And you can also take the personality test here. I did, convinced I would be Frodo! How I longed be that noble little hobbit, saving the world!
But alas, I came out as the elf queen Galadriel, dashing that fond hope to pieces. Because honestly, she’s the one character who kind of scares of me! Although I must say that I was consoled by at least getting a hobbit husband!
Now in case you’re wondering what all this has to do with china plates, read on…
As an ESFJ type, Hubby tested out as Bilbo! Which means he’s conventional and consistent, holding tightly to tradition. And romantic. Dates and celebrations (which I tend to forget) mean a lot to him. So he also likes to hold on to heirlooms and mementos, like Mamma’s china.
Whereas I (an INFJ type) tend to see mementos as unnecessary clutter. There’s a whole new world out there to explore and discover. Why hold on to things that will only hold me back?
But getting back to the plates…
Well, several years ago we undertook the care of Hubby’s old family home in southern Italy, and all the work that came with it. The house was filthy, in ill repair, and full of mold and mildew due to the leaky roof. And on top of it all, there were tons of trash and stuff and to sort through and get rid of – mostly dumped there by generous? cousins.
And that was when I found the plates. Plates of all kinds. Some cheap and nicked, and some nearly complete sets in good condition. But mostly all mismatched – and way too many. I know, because I counted over 100! Now, I ask you – who in the world needs that many plates?
Which all created a great quandary for Minimalist Me. What was I supposed to do with all those dishes which I neither wanted nor needed?!
So I kept out what I felt we would actually use. Temporarily stuffing the rest in the basement. A dilemma to deal with another time, when my plate (no pun intended) was less full.
In the end, my daughter ended up taking the nice, almost complete 12-setting china service. And I gave the rest away. After all, we had no intentions of opening an agriturismo or B&B.
And then we started noticing a nostalgic look in Hubby’s eyes when he used those plates. Until it finally came out that they were his mother’s dishes. I’ll never understand why he hadn’t mentioned it! But needless to say, Anne and I swapped plates, and Mamma’s China came home for keeps.
I know that Hubby would hate for anything to happen to those plates. For they help keep Mamma’s memory alive for him, bringing her just a little closer. When holds them, he sees them in his mother’s hands.
“Chip the glasses and break the plates, that’s what Bilbo Baggins hates!” – Bilbo, JRR Tolkien
Which is a concept I don’t fully understand. To me they were, and still are, just plates. Sure they’re fine antique china. And it is special that they were my mother-in-law’s. But I don’t need things to keep the past alive for me, for it lives vividly in my heart and over-active imagination.
Plates and such things (no matter whose they were) hold no real meaning for me. They just don’t hsbr the same pull that his mother’s china does for him, because I cherish the people not the things.
The gift of understanding
The special thing for me was being able to give them to my husband, along with the gift of understanding.
Because to be perfectly honest, I didn’t always have a lot of patience with what I saw as sentimental drivel. All that unnecessary stuff and clutter because memories will always live on in my mind and heart, (That’s Minimalist Me, for better or for worse.)
But I’m glad I learned about personality traits. It helped me see all our quirks and tendencies in a whole new way. And combined with another Tolkien treasure, I realized that we’re all really an odd mix of quirks. Because yes, just like Bilbo Baggins, my husband is a bit stuck in his ways, clinging to his mementos and daily routines.
But he’s also quick to leave his precious doilies and china to help anyone in need. Just like Bilbo did in answering the call to help the dwarves save their homeland. When the call comes, he’s right there on the fighting line.
“You’ve been sitting quietly for far too long. Tell me. When did doilies and your mother’s dishes become so important to you? I remember a young Hobbit who was always running off in search of Elves in the woods.” – Gandalf, JRR Tolkien
So I learned it’s worth having patience, overlooking quirks, and even *gasp from Minimalist Me* putting up with some clutter. Because under all that we’ll usually find plenty of hidden treasure.
I was blessed to be able to give the gift of Mamma’s China knowing it brought joy. And I’ll be on the look-out for other such gifts. Because even when we don’t fully understand, we can still share another’s joy. And joy shared is always joy doubled!
Love is taking a few steps backward, maybe even more… to give way to the happiness of the one you love!A.A. Milne