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As I recall, my husband couldn’t afford a diamond when he proposed to me a year before marriage. Instead, for an engagement present, he gave me a set of Noritake china. That was in 1961, 49 years ago. I used it for a few years after our marriage when we had “company.” When the kids arrived, Melmac became my china of choice, followed by Corelle, and the Noritake went into storage.

Years later when my folks needed dishes, I “loaned” them my china. In their retirement, they used it for a few years in an apartment after they gave up their home and before moving into a senior living facility with communal meals.

So it was that I found the china wrapped in newspaper dated 1981 in our off-site storage area last Saturday, May 22, 2010.

“What do we do with our china,” I asked my dust-covered husband as we stood hunched over sorting boxes under the gabled roof of an attic.

“What china?” he asked, handsome as the day he gave it to me. Almost the same size—only two waist sizes larger and the same 6’2” height, with only a little salt sprinkled through his brown short hair.

“The Noritake you gave me for an engagement present—the dishes we’ve rarely used.”

No hesitation. “Shove it over here. I’ll take it down. We can find room for it in our storage unit.”

“I don’t think I’ll ever use it again. It’s sort of not my taste anymore. Our taste…”

“I’ll find room for it.”

Two days later, after I’d written some relatives about my china dilemma, I got an email from my sister-in-law who lives 500 miles away. “If you’re looking to get rid of your china and can’t sell it on E-bay, I’d love to have it. I told my dinner group about it, and they said I need it for when it’s my turn to host them. ” By this time, the china was safely tucked into the 6’ x 8’ storage unit in our condo building.

“Barb will take our china,” I told my husband that evening as we walked Michigan Avenue. “But I did find on the Web that a place setting of our outdated pattern still sells for $40, and we have eight…plus some serving dishes.”

No hesitation. “Tell her we’ll think about it.” He smiled. “ If we give it to them, tell her it will cost $400 in transportation.”

I have yet to answer her email.