The Red Letter Dishes

Abbie Creed

© Copyright 2023 by Abbie Creed

Photo courtesy of the author.
Photo courtesy of the author.

This is a wonderful story of a Christmas gift surprise that became a life long tradition in our family but in the lives of others who have been recipients of a copycat gift. Some went as wedding gifts, others as Christmas gifts to friends. Believing in the importance of family traditions I set out to keep the story of the original dishes alive. alive for 


The week before Christmas after we moved into our new house, Grandma and Grandpa Creed arrived bringing with them a large box. It was about the size of a manís suit box and wrapped in colorful Christmas paper with a huge red bow on the top. They sat it gingerly on the dining room table. You can imagine how excited our six children were to open it and see what was under those beautiful wrappings. But there were some instructions that came with the box. No one could move it, pick it up, or shake it, and it could not be opened until Christmas Eve when Santa came.

As the week progressed the excitement and curiosity became more noticeable. Even Dan and I could not imagine what gift could be suitable for all of us. Could there possibly be small individual gits in there for eight people? That really didnít seem likely, but it was a thought. Each of the children, ages three to thirteen, had his or her own ideas. The guessing got wilder as the week progressed.

Finally, the time came for the unwrapping the surprise package. Dan had his way of prolonging the excitement. He slowly untied the bow and carefully began removing the paper ever so slowly, allowing each of the children to tear a piece until the box itself was exposed. He lifted the lid and we all had a chance to uncover one of the pieces of red tissue paper that uncovered a beautiful serving of red dishes. There also was a red placemat, a red napkin, red handled knife, fork and spoon, a red drinking glass, and a red wine glass. One place setting for eight people seemed like such an odd gift. But right on top of the whole package of goodies was a picture frame of instructions for use.

That first Christmas, Fr. Pat, Danís brother, better known as Uncle Pat and years later he became Gup, short for Great-uncle Pat. I had the honor of having the first of the family birthdays in January. Over the years from 1964, the year of the surprise gift, until The Thanksgiving before Covid hit, those dishes became a vital part of every Creed family celebration in our home, and there were many of them.

There is another part of this story that makes Red Letter Dishes even more special. My mother-in-law, Ruth Creed was an avid member of her Homemakers Club. This idea was presented at one of her meetings and she determined that it was a perfect gift for us, especially being in our new home to get it started. However, she ran into quite a snag. In those days, it was impossible to find red dishes anywhere in town. So while she and Grandpa were on a trip to Canada, she shopped every store that she could find that might have red dishes.

She found one enroute from one city to another but she didnít buy them because she didnít want to carry them all day. Unfortunately she didnít get back there in time to purchase the dishes. However, she met a woman on the train and was telling her the story and how she goofed on the purchase. The woman, who was native to that area, told her that she would purchase the dishes for her and send them to Louisville from Canada. I am not sure that I would have been willing to do that for a perfect stranger but she did it for Grandma Creed. That special woman and her act of kindness to Danís parents, made their gift possible, and that is the priceless story connected to my set of dishes, that I will cherish forever.

In time, red dishes became popular as it was part of Fiesta Wares new line of colorful dishes. As the children grew up and left home each of them received a set of these dishes. Many times, I have created this family gift for a friend or for a couple as a wedding gift. Each time there has always been one of the items seemingly hard to find. The last time I made one of these gifts, I remember the difficulty trying to find red glasses. However, the effort finding them, makes the gift even more valuable.

Welcome to the Creed Red Letter Days!

Motherís Day, Fatherís Day, Birthdays, First Communions, Confirmations, Anniversaries, Graduations, First car, first baby, Special Awards, Making the Honor Role, any event Mom Deems Special.

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