Why my mom is awesome or how to pick your flatware pattern

When I was getting married (way back in the early 90s) my then-fiance and I registered for everything at Dillard’s. I picked out flatware and hoped that we’d get at least four place settings so we could have another couple over for dinner and I would be able to present everyone with forks that matched rather than the eclectic mix of garage-sale forks and pilfered chow hall flatware I had been using up until then.

My mother went on a business trip to Germany, a TDY in military parlance. While she was over there, she visited a base that was being shut down and stopped at the base exchange to see if there were any bargains. She called me when she got back to the states and told me, “I’ve got your present! You’re going to love it!”

In the housewares section of this closing BX was a huge bin of boxed Oneida flatware. Not the super-cheap stuff that rusts but nice 18/10 stainless that would look nice and hold up for a lot of years. She said they’d been marked down 1/2 off of 1/2 off of 1/2 off until they were nearly free. I know she didn’t pay more than $2.50 for each place setting. So she spent probably an hour sifting through the bin and sorting the boxes by pattern. When she got done, she scooped up whatever pattern it was they had the most of and dumped them all in her cart.

Never mind that the pattern was more floral than I liked. Who could fuss about getting TWENTY-TWO place settings of your flatware?!! We gratefully accepted the gift and opened eight of the boxes to start with. Over the years we’ve damaged or lost some of it here and there so we open a new box and replace the flatware as needed. We celebrated our 17th anniversary this year and we still have a few unopened boxes up in the highest cupboard, ready for the next time I drop a knife in disposer by mistake.

I looked it up on Amazon today and a five-piece place setting of my flatware retails for $40. I knew $2.50/place setting was a bargain but I never realized what a huge bargain my mom stumbled upon. So thanks, Mom!


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