Thursday, December 15, 2011

Winey Thoughts: The Cut Glass Decanters On My Shelf

There are A LOT of decanters on the market these days. They are sleek and modern or quirky and fun. Some come with aerators, some with foil cutters and corkscrews. I own none of these.

I do own two decanters though. They are not sleek. And they are years removed from being modern or probably even very decanting-friendly (I made that word up, I think). To look at them, you'd pretty much expect Major Nelson and Jeannie to be walking into the room soon. It's a style that not everybody loves...or even tolerates. But to me they are priceless.

Take a look at the clear decanter on the left in the picture below. It's just about 15 1/2 inches high - 4 of which are the stopper. It's got some heft to it - it's cut glass, after all. The designs cut into it are starburst-like patterns with horizontal lines in between and underneath. The stopper has the same designs cut into it. I suppose you could say that this decanter sealed my fate as a Winey Mom. Here's why:

My mother (Gail Ann - you'll need the names here to follow along), was best friends with her grandmother, Anna (her mother's mother). Ever wonder how I got my name, Ann? Well now you know. They were always close - the families lived next door to each other for a time in the little New Jersey town my mom was born in. According to my mom, every time she visited her Grandmother, they'd have a glass of wine. Apparently this went on even after I was born. My mom would bundle me up and head to her grandmother's house (at this time we all lived at the Jersey shore - no cracks here about a certain reality show, okay? MY Jersey shore is and was a wonderful place to be...I spent my summers there until I was in high school). And they'd have a glass of wine. So of course I was destined to be a Winey Mom - I was exposed to it as an infant!!! This little ritual continued, and Anna and her husband Frank celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. My mother bought them this decanter as a gift, in honor of the precious hours she spent with her grandmother sipping away. When Anna passed away, the decanter came back to my mother, who presented it to me as a gift one Christmas years ago.

The purple decanter you see in the picture also stands about 15 1/2 inches high. Again, four of those inches are the stopper. It is a hefty little thing too. Much heavier than its counterpart. You'll need your upper arm strength once you actually add liquid to it. It too is decorated cut glass - featuring flowers and grapes and some star-like designs. There's even some etching that is supposed to look like a grape vine alongside the grapes. It's old...really old. I don't know exactly how old...but it was an antique when I was a newborn (and I am decidedly NOT a newborn anymore so....)

The purple decanter came into my possession one Christmas a few years back. It had been my grandmother's. Her name was Elizabeth (again, you'll need the names). When her daughter, my mother (the aforementioned Gail Ann), got married in 1962, she received a similar decanter as a wedding gift. Elizabeth loved the decanter - always commented on it and generally "made a fuss over it". So one day, as my mother wandered through an antique shop: BAM! A duplicate of the decanter she had gotten as a wedding gift. She bought it for her mom and gave it to her as a present. So now there were two purple decanters in the family - the original (which is always in my mind's eye as I remember the dining room of the house I grew up in) and its twin.

My grandmother was one of my best friends. Ever wonder how MY daughter got the name Elizabeth? Well now you know that, too. So when she passed away 5 years ago at the age of 90, my mother took the purple decanter and gave it to me. Mother and daughter once again have a pair of purple, cut glass decanters.

Yes, I'm noticing a pattern here. Anna and Gail Ann drinking wine together (as baby me lay nearby obviously taking it all in and committing it to memory!). Elizabeth and Gail with matching decanters. Is it a wonder that I am thrilled to have these two items in MY house now? MY house - with an Ann and an Elizabeth under its roof. Yes, I know where they will end up one day.

My Elizabeth is 16 at this writing. So I am 5 years away from introducing her to the ritual of mother daughter wine sipping. But history tends to repeat itself and it is doing so right now. Because my mother, Gail Ann, and my daughter, Elizabeth, are best buddies. So it might not be my job to bring her into the sipping mode...that honor will most likely go to my mom. But I will absolutely make sure that those decanters make it into my Elizabeth's house she can continue the tradition with her daughter (name to be determined.....MUCH later!).


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  1. Thanks Lyzz! As you can tell, they mean a lot to me. I think we all have special objects that do that to us, don't we!?


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