Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Habits and Plates

“Habit is stronger than reason.”
-George Santayana

Certain habits are indelible. During the first Christmas Day that I was away from home and residing in California, I spoke to my mother on the telephone many times within a few hours. She was due to visit me in a few days and, it being an eminently significant occasion, I was on her mind.
During one such call, I heard a clatter of plates and rustle of wrapping paper working in symphony with each other as Mater attempted the dual tasks of readying the dinner table and opening gifts. Then, in the background, I heard my brother speak to her.
"We don't need that many plates," he said, "you've put one extra."
Mater had, in a combined moment of chaos and custom, put my plate on the table. The unique, blue-patterned plate was instantly recognisable: I had, years before, determined that item to be exclusively mine because my brother had a tendency to lick his plate after a meal, and I wanted my own fresh, permanently unlicked dinnerware.
That, then, is how one can be in two places at the same time, and how habits are not easily untied from the tangle of our lives.


Pauline said...

Wonderful memory. I set my children's places at the table for days after each one went off to college. It hurt to have to take them off so often the remaining child and I would sit with three extra places at the table.

I loved the smiley face story, too. I remember having a new sweetheart once and filling his little house with smiley faces. He was still finding some of them when he was packing to move, years later!

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Pauline, oh, Mater will be glad to hear that story, that you too put out plates for the absent :)
And how fun that the little smiley faces hung on so tightly and stayed for years!

Ruth L.~ said...

So nice not to be forgotten, even in habit, by one's mother.:>) Sweet story.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Ruth, mothers never forget ;)

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