Finding the Silver Lining in Eighty Years of Missed Opportunity

The Podcasting Store
3 min readNov 24, 2023

by Drew Holmes

It was day two of cleaning out the garage. A contrast to the warm, sunny weather of the previous day, cold rain had settled over the Bay State. Mom had died a week before and I had made the trip back to Massachusetts to help dad sort out the house. My grandmother had lived there until she passed a few months earlier, so most of a lifetime’s worth of items had been hastily moved from her house to the garage.

Shuffling some accumulated clutter aside, I saw an old wooden box with barely a scratch on it. Obviously an antique, I was curious to see its contents. What I discovered inside intrigued me.

“Look what I found!” I exclaimed to dad.

I presented the box to my father. Within its burgundy velvet lined interior was a heavily tarnished set of silverware.

“That belonged to your grandparents,” he said. “It was a wedding present. I don’t think that they ever used it.”

I was crestfallen. Here was a beautiful set of silver, every piece accounted for, but it had no memories. No birthday dinners, no anniversary meals, no holiday feasts. It had lived in this box for decades, patiently waiting for a day that would be special enough to deserve such reverie. Unfortunately for my grandparents that day would never come.

“Such a shame,” I said. “It’s like the movie Sideways. Paul Giamatti’s character had this special bottle of wine he was saving for ‘someday’. In the end he drinks it out of a Styrofoam cup at McDonald’s.”

“Would you like to have it?” dad asked.

“Absolutely!”

Since I had flown in from Colorado and had no room to spare in my suitcase, I anticipated dad would send a package including the silverware and a few other items for the boys we discovered while cleaning the garage. The ensuing weeks saw no parcel on my porch, so I did not press the matter.

Two months later, dad arrived at our house for Thanksgiving. While he unpacked, he presented me with a suitcase.

“Open it,” he said. “What’s in it is for you.”

Within the luggage was a construction helmet for Sam and multiple bags of Legos for Timothy. At the bottom was a familiar slightly scratched box containing a tarnished set of silverware. Instantly I knew what I needed to do.

I brought home polishing cloths from the store to restore the silverware to its original luster. Removing decades of tarnish brought to the surface thoughts of missed opportunities. This set was almost eighty years old. How many special events had it not attended? How many celebrations had been left unmarked?

For this Thanksgiving we will make turkey, the usual sides, and an unreasonable number of desserts. We will remember those who are not with us, some gone for decades, others absent the holiday for the first time. And on the table will be a set of silverware that has seen years with no memories, time with no tradition. We will give thanks for the people we love, the food we share, and the opportunity to be together and create a new legacy.

Postscript

Thanksgiving morning, Sam woke up early.

“I’m hungry!” he announced groggily. “I want Panda Puffs!”

Two minutes later I presented him with his bowl of cereal and an antique but unused shiny silver spoon. It won’t replace eighty years of unmarked occasions, but I can think of no better place to start.

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