It is amazing how simple things from our childhood memories shape and guide us. These simple things frequently involve food. My Mom’s older sister, Auntie Jack, and her family lived a block away when I was growing up. Auntie and Uncle had four kids. Three of them were older than me and my brother. One was our age, their baby. We played with the baby all the time. That meant that we would sleep over at Auntie and Uncles fairly regularly. When we got up in the morning, Auntie Jack made us breakfast. Usually, she served toast with breakfast. To most folks, toast is no big deal. To me it was special. You see, Auntie jack had a round wood plate that she used to serve toast on. It was a special plate that only came out when toast was made. At our house, Mom and Dad put toast on any old plate that was handy. We didn’t have a cool plate like Auntie had.
Before I got married last year, Auntie asked what I wanted for my shower and wedding gifts. I didn’t even have to think about it. I blurted out, “A toast plate like you have.” She laughed and asked me what I was talking about. I told her how having toast at her house was special because of that plate. I wanted one as a gift. She then explained to me that she had received that plate as a gift at her wedding. Originally, it was a plate with a dome top to serve cheese in. Over time she just used it as a toast plate. She kept insisting that I must want something more than a simple wooden plate. I insisted that was all I wanted from her. She just laughed and shook her head. My wedding shower came and went. No toast plate was among the many gifts. I figured that she must have forgotten or just thought I was joking. I wasn’t.
The day after our wedding, we had a gift opening at my folk’s house. We opened gifts and ohhed and ahhed at our many blessings. One of the last gift bags was light and only had my Auntie’s name on it. I was puzzled as I had already opened a gift from Auntie and Uncle. Why was there another gift here? Why did it only have her name on it? Weird, I thought. I opened it and gasped. Then I started to sob. It was one of those big, blubbering, snot bubble, kind of sobs that a box of tissues and two hand towels couldn’t stop. This made Auntie Jack cry too. Inside the bag was a wooden plate!! I held it up, still crying, trying to explain what it was. Mr. Bernie had no clue what was going on. His family looked a little perplexed as well. I tried to explain about the plate. I was crying too hard for anyone to understand. I finally got the story out and hugged my Auntie tightly.
Auntie had a story for me. “Bern, I couldn’t believe that you wanted an old wooden plate for toast. It wasn’t something I ever gave much thought. I had to ask your Mom, to be sure that you weren’t just being silly. When your Mom assured me that you really wanted a wooden plate for toast, I had to get busy. It took me several weeks of looking online and at antique shops to find one. Finally, two weeks before the wedding I found one. I was worried you wouldn’t like it because it had carvings on it. I was thrilled to finally find this plate for you.” I expressed my gratitude with another hug.
If you came to my house and saw this little wooden plate next to my toaster, you would probable think little of it. The trouble my Auntie went through and the love she has bestowed through it is hidden in its grain and etched into my heart. You might not realize how magical this little wooden plate is. Mr Bernie and I share our toast with each other and remember how it is the simple things in life that bind us together. Everyone should have a special wooden toast plate to serve with.