I have two sets of china, one new, one used. Had I made a different choice, I could have two sets of new china. Ok, the new sets aren't really new. One is the set I got when I got married 17 years ago. It has probably been used about 17 times, maybe less. The other "new" set is almost 50 years old and was my mother's. It looks like it just came out of the box--and why not? I'm sure it was used less than 50 times. However, I don't have that set, my sister does. Instead, I have a set that is over 50 years old, that was my grandmother's. I'm not sure when she got it, but it was after she got married, and before my mother did. It is definitely a used set though. Even though those dishes have never seen the inside of a dishwasher, the gold trim is wearing off in spots. A few of the dishes have been carefully glued back together. Yes, Grandma used her good dishes. I didn't live near her, so I don't know exactly when she used them. She didn't use them when the family with five kids visited but I'll bet she used them when the card club came over.
Looking at the dishes got me thinking about the differences in our life styles now and then. When Grandma and Grandpa had "company" they brought out the good stuff. They dressed up, and so did the company. Grandma cooked special food and served it on the good dishes. Their friends returned in kind. Today we don't have "company" we have our friends come over. We pull out the paper plates and cups we write people's names on. We do potluck or pick up party trays from the grocery store. Everyone dresses casually. Part of it is just a change in lifestyle in general--I don't dress up to go grocery shopping like my mom did and the only reason my kids have "school clothes" and "play clothes" is that they wear school uniforms. On the other hand, my grandmother treated company like they were special, whereas today we say "don't go to all that trouble for me" (because I'm not special?) so I guess one of my daughters will inherit some "new" china and one a definitely used set.