Did you have a special red plate in your home growing up?
The You-Are-Special-Today plate was marketed in the late 80s by Hallmark as a great way to honor someone at meal time. Only on days like birthdays, or the day report cards came home did the red plate come out for dinner. It was a big deal-io.
I recently unearthed a special plate in an estate I was clearing–the exact one my family had.
I grew up in a family that most people would call poor. When I was born, home was a hand-me-down trailer near the college campus where my parents went to school. We moved a lot for my dad’s career and it wasn’t until I was 11 years old that we finally got a house with a second bathroom for the four of us. The experience of growing up like this has turned out to serve me very well. In fact, when the headlines blaze with news of economic recession sending everyone else panic-stricken to the bank, I take a deep breath and say a prayer—for them. I know my family will be fine because we have always lived within our means, no matter how meager. I can save money on a salary most wouldn’t believe could support a litter of puppies.
Eating on the red plate instead of ever—EVER—going out to dinner never seemed like a sacrifice to me as a kid. I knew going out to dinner was expensive and I knew my mom was a great cook. I could request anything in her repertoire and be blissfully happy to eat as much of it as I wanted.
Now it probably seems naïve or sheltered to some people — like it’s from a simpler, foreign era. But, not to me. To me it’s a fond memory of togetherness that I am trying to continue with my kids (who get to eat out a lot more often than I ever did) and I’m grateful for the financial awareness I inherited from my frugal parents. Yes, they are cheap. Good for them! They now own their home in Southern California, as do my sister and I — a long way from the trailer park.
So tell me, have you heard of the red plate? Did you have one?
What no-cost traditions are you incorporating into your kids’ lives now? Comment below.
Also published on Medium.