Tucked away in the cupboard over our kitchen stove is a set of Currier & Ives dishes I have not removed from that spot since I placed them there more than two years ago.

They were my paternal grandmother’s dishes. She was Scottish and lived in Durham when we were kids. At some point when I was very young and after she had died, the set came to our house in Skowhegan and we kept it in Grammie’s buffet in the dining room, to be taken out only for special occasions, namely, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

We called it Grammie’s buffet because that, too, came from her house. It was made of a pretty brown polished wood and had two small drawers at the top center, under which was a glass door where the holiday dishes were kept, and curved glass doors on either side that held tiny teacups and saucers and other antiques my grandmother owned.

While the drawers served as my mother’s catch-all place where one could find anything from knitting needles to coins and colored yarn, the three glass doors were kept locked with a small key and opened only at the holidays.

On Thanksgiving morning, we would slide the dining room table apart and insert an extra wooden leaf or two that made the table longer. The night before, I’d rummage through the bureau at the top of the stairs to find my mother’s best tablecloths — white with a shimmery pattern across the surface. I’d iron them as she had during the years I was too little to do so.

I liked setting the Thanksgiving table with those blue and white Currier & Ives dinner plates, serving bowls, gravy boat and matching cups and saucers that bore old-fashioned scenes of rural cottages and barns, children playing by wooden fences, and horse-drawn sleighs.

As we got older, my mother acquired two new sets of china, very unlike the Currier & Ives, and she kept them in a tall china closet in a corner of the dining room. Both sets were white, one with silver trim and the other with tiny orange flowers; and instead of continuing to use the Currier & Ives, we alternated using the newer sets at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The Currier & Ives lay unused in Grammie’s buffet for many years. About once a year, we would take the dishes out to vacuum away the dust and polish the wooden interior, but we never again used them to set a holiday table.

It was only after my mother died in 2015 and we began cleaning out her house that I unlocked the glass door and removed, one by one, each plate, soup bowl, platter, gravy boat, butter dish, sugar bowl and pitcher. After my siblings and I took turns going around the house and taking items we wanted, the Currier & Ives set was one of the things that remained unspoken for.

One night I lay the dishes out on the dining room floor, separating the good from the chipped plates and discovering there were so many duplicates of everything that my sister took some and still I had a full set.

I packed them up, brought them to our home in Waterville, meticulously washed and dried each piece and placed them carefully in the cupboard over the stove, thinking that one day I would use them on Thanksgiving or Christmas day.

That has yet to happen, perhaps because I tend to forget that they are there.

Or, I have to ask myself, is it that subconsciously I am not yet ready to place them on the holiday table, causing all those old, sweet memories to filter back and along with them, the reminder that my parents are no longer here?

Why do we keep the things we do not use because they hold sentimental meaning? I rationalize that one day I will give them to a young family member who will treasure them as much as I have.

But my fear is that no one will want them — that they will wind up on those endless shelves of memorabilia you see in flea markets and antiques shops, nameless and faceless, even though they graced someone’s table long ago.

Though I will not take out the Currier & Ives this year, perhaps in the warmth of a July day we’ll take them down, pack them up and transport them to the lake for summer use.

And there, in the company of friends, maybe we’ll dress a table in white, place the old china there, share a meal and welcome the onset of a new era.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter for 29 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.