One privileged and also incredibly bulky result of being part of a family that’s been in the U.S. for multiple generations is that we’ve had time to accumulate a lot of stuff. My mother’s house is full of drawers of mismatched china, etched crystal wine goblets, and both the silver my great-grandmother got for herself when she was around 28 and figured she’d be single for the rest of her life, as well as the silver she received at her wedding. What an honor to be the stewards of these antiques — and also what a pain in the ass.
It’s a pain because tradition has it that things like wedding china and crystal are only to be used on “special occasions,” which for most people translates to “never.” You have your Ikea or Crate & Barrel dishware for everyday use, and then your nice china sits in some cupboard and gathers dust even though you barely have enough room in your apartment as is, because it’s so nice and so delicate. And if you do manage to find an occasion to use it, there’s the hassle of cleaning it, because everyone says you shouldn’t run it through the dishwasher.