Faster than you could say Happy Tha—, my mother had cleared away the pumpkins and leaves in favor of berries, reds and greens at her house. That includes the tiered sweets plate, a favorite piece from her set of Lenox Holiday china with the holly berry pattern that my father bought her years ago. Dad didn’t joke around when he went for this gift for my mom, getting her every last piece to the set, including the tiered plate. This was back when Holiday was first released, long before Lenox sort of downgraded the pattern (the holly and berries are more overt, slightly glaring and unsubtle these days) and decided their holly could and should be printed on everything but the kitchen sink. So Mom’s set is reasonable, with candlesticks and platters being the classic sorts of extras she has over and above the standard place settings (rather than napkin rings, place mats, hot pads, aprons, curtains, children’s clothing…).
The tiered plate comes out the moment we turn the page from Thanksgiving, and it resides on the dining room table. The tiers aren’t filled the whole of December with cookies and candies, but that’s no matter. It is there, like our Advent, to ‘prepare the way,’ and inspire anticipation. It’s a reminder that good things, ever such good things, are to come.
I’ve kept my eye out over the years for my own tiered serving piece, primarily in service of my love of mignardises, the spectacular tiny treats served after dinner at fine restaurants. The word mignardises comes from the French meaning “little” or “cute.” Add to that “sweet,” and my eyes are popping out of my head with excitement (seriously, it doesn’t take much, does it).
I found my ideal tiered plate last summer. This one is heavy, painted white on white like so many pretty things up north are, and it came from Joie de Vie, a lovely French antique shop on M-119 between Harbor Springs and Petoskey. The price was right, surprising in a store with big prices on big pieces, so I kept it in a death grip while I walked the shop that day. In case you want one too, I also think this one is a stunner, silver-plated to go with most any china.
The season of good will and good things to eat is upon us. Let’s serve it all forth as it deserves, with great attention and beauty.