As an 8-year-old child, my grandmother, Margaret Shaffer, prompted me to choose a Christmas china pattern. I am not sure it gets much more Southern than that. I can assure you I was waving my American Girl Doll catalog under her nose. I did not cook and certainly had no clue as to what my Christmas china style was or what Christmas china style was for that fact.

One might assume that china patterns are best for a wedding registry, and one would be right. But no, not in my family. 

Ma loved a collection of anything, whether it was Santa figurines for her own home or the charms on our mutual charm bracelets. It made for easy shopping.

So here I was, destined to receive this china for every possible life event up until the day she died. 

Ma felt the need to get going on this collection right away. She insisted it would take years to complete and that I would be thrilled to have it all when I got married someday. 

Ma was Alexander City’s Mrs. Claus in the 1990s, and when it came to Christmas doings, I did as she instructed, or she would call Santa from her landline.

I remember choosing Fitz and Floyd’s Saint Nicholas with Santa on it from a catalog. An obvious choice for a kid as it had Santa and reindeer on it. My mother had Spode Christmas Tree, and I did not want to have the exact same pattern. I received my first place setting that Christmas. It went promptly to the top of my closet. Along with a treasure trove of Holiday Barbies, which no one would let me take out of the box; do not get me started on that one.

To my dismay, Ma soon discovered that the F&F pattern was going to be discontinued. Unfortunately, I would need to choose another pattern to pursue the following Christmas.

I landed on Lenox’s Holiday design with gold trim. Holiday was introduced in 1974 and is still a mainstay on tablescapes to this day. A rather elegant choice, the plates are wrapped with dainty holly. Ma was surprised at my mature choice. I have no doubt I was simply striving to pick something colorful, and it all looked painfully boring to me without a second Santa Claus art option. To this day, I still reach for the most colorful option presented to me as my brain is like a Lisa Frank sticker book.

Fast forward to 2020, and in my garage, I do have a complete tub of Lenox Holiday china. I slip two of the coffee saucers into my cabinet each season. I try to serve at least one big dinner party on the plates, thinking of my crazy, nutty Ma each time. I bought my nieces their first Holiday Barbies this year, and yes, we ripped them right out of the box! 

~Lacey Howell is a recovering English major from Auburn, who now lives on Lake Martin, sells real estate, rides horses and loves good wine. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram @LaceyHowell.