A silver spoon links me to well-known bookbinders and reminds me that: nice things take time.

Just my Grandma and I were standing around her dinning room table when she said, “Nice things take time.” I’ll never forget it. It was like a piece of advice and an observation all in one, and it stuck in my memory for good.

My Grandma had planned for us to frost and decorate mini gingerbread cookies together. I was probably in middle school, not sure. Maybe it was the early 1990s.

She had baked piles of the cookies ahead of time and had them all spread out in front of us. It smelled great!

She had also made them all identical, just a basic gingerbread man shape, about the size of my thumb. She only had white frosting for us though, no other decorations. She preferred a more traditional look, “simple” she said, and showed me an example of how I could use a toothpick to dab the frosting on “just so.”

She went about picking up each little gingerbread cookie and got busy making two eyes, a mouth, and three buttons down the middle. Then Grandma held one up for me to see, and copy if I liked. I picked one up and tried to do one like hers. It wan’t so easy, and I fumbled a bit. She said, “That’s alright. Just try again.”

And again, she said: “Nice things take time, Annie.”

And so I learned how to decorate gingerbread cookies, and listened to Grandma talk, as I repeated the steps dabbing white frosting on each cookie, one after the other.

Tonight’s inspiration comes from a silver spoon my Grandma pulled out of her dinning room cabinet when we took a break from decorating cookies that day.

Antique Silver Spoon
Antique Silver Spoon from 1906

She had taken the opportunity of having my attention to share with me a piece of history and an heirloom that had been passed down in her family for generations.

She told me that this spoon was really important to her and that she really wanted me to know that it should stay in the family always. This caught my attention, so I listened carefully.

She pointed out that it was silver and needed to be cared for carefully, like shining it occasionally to keep the tarnish off. She said you could wrap it in plastic wrap if you wanted to keep it from tarnishing as well. When the air gets at it it discolors, that’s why it tarnishes. The plastic wrap would stop that.

Shining the spoon like Grandma taught me

I took a before and after picture of the spoon before I shined it up. I think it would make my Grandma happy to see it all shiny.

 


She also showed me the monogrammed letter “G” on it and the two years engraved on the back. This part was significant. When I picked this spoon up more recently I had to do the math subtracting the years 1906-1881 to remember the rest of the story, but basically you take the two and the difference is 25. I remembered it was an anniversary gift, but that made more sense once I did the math to get this particular number. It was a 25th wedding anniversary gift.

 

The spoon is a lot of “greats” old

I knew she said it was her mom’s side of the family that had it, but I couldn’t remember how many “greats” back it was. So I texted my Dad and he looked up some old newspaper articles online to do some research. Here’s what we found:

Looks like the “G” stands for Grimm. That was the last name, I remembered hearing that name before. The couple had been given various silver anniversary gifts and this spoon was one piece of that. Typically silver is the metal associated with this milestone anniversary, so that made lots of sense. I’m sure my Grandma probably mentioned that, but there were a few pieces of information that got foggy over time. I’m still not sure how many “greats,” but for some reason I kinda like not knowing exactly. It’s sometimes fun to keep a few things a little bit of a mystery. This is one detail I will keep unknown for certain. But it’s a lot of “greats” old.

My link to a well-known bookbinding family

One other piece of information I found super interesting, which I had only sort of remembered, was that the Grimms were fairly well-known bookbinders in the Madison, Wisconsin area. The article my dad found even says the family was “one of the most highly esteemed in Madison.” No relation to Grimm fairy tales, just a coincidence. But, it’s really neat to know since I love writing so much and now know the love for the written word is deeply seeded into my genes.

 

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How did I get the spoon?

My Grandma was in a nursing home when my Grandpa passed away. My family had to clear out their house. I remembered the conversation I had with my Grandma that day and asked if I could have the spoon if we could find it. We found it, and I’ve had it ever since.

When I look at it, I remember that day, gingerbread cookies and her taking the time to show me the spoon she pulled out of her cabinet. I also remember her saying: “Nice things take time,” which has been a motto I’ve lived by and remembered ever since.

This phrase has actually made it’s way into a song I wrote about her too. I plan to share that soon. But, keeping in mind that “nice things take time,” I’m taking my time to get it recorded the very best I can first. It’s something special to look forward to, and definitely inspired by the memory I’ve just shared.

 

Is there a phrase or piece of advice someone told you once that’s stuck with you all these years? I’d love to hear your story. Leave a comment below.

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