Last night this bowl held arugula with tomatoes and cucumber, lightly dressed with a vinaigrette. I used these sterling salad servers my mother got me for Christmas many years ago. There is a story behind these servers.
First, a thing about my mom. She always wanted* Christmas to be full of presents: lots of beautifully wrapped boxes of thoughtful gifts waiting to be opened. She liked to buy and wrap these gifts as early in the year as possible. It was not at all odd for her to start buying (and wrapping) presents in January. This is an important fact for later in the story.
One year, I think while I was in college (so, late nineties), my mother ordered this sterling silver salad server set (so! many! "s" words!) for me. She ordered it from a magazine that featured silver things from the Kremlin. There were cigarette holders, tableware, card-cases... all kinds of things.
She ordered and waited. She bought and wrapped gifts. She dreamed of a tree adorned with beautiful boxes...
One day, after surveying the stash of wrapped gifts in her bedroom closet, she realized she still hadn't received the salad servers for me. She called the catalog company and complained to them. They said that their records indicated that they had sent out the servers a long while ago.
"But I NEVER received them", protested my mother.
The representative was apologetic and said she would send out a replacement immediately. And she did! And all was right with the world. My mother received and wrapped the server set.
Fast forward to Christmas of that year:
I open some presents (we all take turns, rather than willy-nilly ripping through colorful paper like wolves). One of my presents is a lovely set of sterling silver salad servers. Other people open presents, I open more presents. My last gift comes. I open it. It is a lovely set of sterling silver salad servers. WHAT? My mother is shocked.
Mom: "But! I NEVER got those the first time so they had to send a replacement!"
Les: "Oh Mom. You never got them the first time, or you don't remember getting them?"
Mom: "I NEVER got them! I nev... Well, it was so long ago and I wrap things when I get them, and... Well... Shit."
Les: "I'm not sure I can accept stolen goods as a Christmas present, Mom."
But I did accept them. And the Russians NEVER found out. Score.
*CLARIFICATION: My mother is still alive! If this reads like she isn't, well, I only put these verbs in the past tense because Christmas was more like this when I was younger. Now that we're all adults our Christmases are still delightful, just more modest.