A few years ago, I received a gift from a co-worker friend. I was teaching her son at the time. It was a place setting of red stoneware dishes. In the note she attached, she explained the "Red plate" tradition in her family. Whenever it was someone's special day, be it a birthday, an achievement at work or school, or any other important event, they got use use the red dishes at mealtime. It was really a thoughtful gesture, and a great idea. The dishes got tucked away though, and by the time an occasion did roll around, I totally forgot to bring them out.
Fast forward to now, when starting traditions as a family has more meaning, and Munch is old enough to "get it". She shares so well and enjoys celebrating events, so when I did come across the red plates again, I brought them out. The occasion was Munch's first day of preschool without me, not really a big deal- she went with Grandma (it's set up as a "Mommy & Me" type of program for 2-year olds) and had gone to summer session with me a few months ago. But I grabbed the opportunity- I figure if I wait for some really big deal, those plates will never leave the cupboard, and isn't it those small things that we remember anyway?
If you're interested in a set of red dishes, turns out it's a tradition that dates back to colonial times and the Waechtersbach company makes ones you can order online. Googling "red plate tradition" brought up several links to people's stories about their memories of the red plate and places where you can order the red dinner plate with white lettering: You Are Special Today. You can even find a heart shaped one. But I prefer my own plain, unmessaged set (doesn't seem as hokey). And I plan to bring them out again really soon: AudioDad's away on a business trip- gone just a couple of hours now and we already miss him terribly- I think the red plate will be just the thing for his "welcome home" dinner.