A Plate, a Parade, and a Song

First of all, there was no parade and no song.

But there was a plate. A plate of cupcakes. I can show you the plate, but the cupcakes are missing. Why? Because our grandchildren ate them all up. In fact the two older boys ate theirs up seconds after they landed on the plate. I missed the photo op completely.


Last weekend the family gathered to celebrate the Fourth of July. Some months ago, I had read Laura Brennan’s suggestion about celebrating success of family members with a plate of accomplishment. I caught her enthusiasm and thought “What a great idea!” All four grand-kids had received recognition at school this past year, so it seemed sensible to combine a national holiday with a family celebration.

Laura says,

We have a fun and easy way to celebrate in our house: it’s called The Plate of Accomplishment. In going through my mom’s stuff, I found one lone, gorgeous dinner plate – shimmery,  just lovely. So when one of us has an accomplishment to celebrate, they get to eat dinner on that plate. It comes out with much fanfare (a mini-parade, actually) and a song: “It is the Plate of Accomplishment, it is the Great Great Plate of Accomplishment …

Our grand-kids’ accomplishments were not measured by degrees as adults might do. There was as much hoopla about a memo from a teacher dashed off in minutes as for a bound book in a school library.

And so it went in birth order. . .

We celebrated Patrick’s printed book “My Life as a Pencil”


And Curtis’ recognition for academic achievement among 5th graders in the District


Jenna’s gift for noticing trash on the playground and stopping to pick it up at recess


JennaCharReportAnd Ian’s quality of charity and compassion


Ian: Character trait of Charity & Compassion
Ian: Character trait of Charity & Compassion. He also received a senior yellow belt,  Tae Kwon Do

As long as the pixels and electrons hold together on this website, today’s post will be a family record for the Daltons and the Beamans for years to come. Just as importantly, I pass this celebration along as a template to commemorate all sorts of happy occasions among your own friends and family members, including nieces and nephews.

Back to the celebration: I don’t really think my grand-kids paid much attention when I read them the inscription on the back of the plate. They knew cupcakes were coming! Yet the Old Testament writer Zephaniah prophesied the power of praise . . .

Plate ReverseZechIn my Mennonite upbringing in the 1950s and 60s, honor given to a family member would probably be shyly appreciated but not expressed openly. Why? Because recognition of this sort smacked of pride, the worst sin of all. After my high school graduation with honors, my parents barely acknowledged all the recognition I received. During my Eastern Mennonite College graduation ceremony, not a word was spoken about my ranking in the class. Such practices were soon to change though. I was near the end of the Old Guard.

It is definitely not psychologically sound to overlook the accomplishments of the deserving and according to Zephaniah, it is certainly not biblical either.

*  *  *

As you read this post, did a name or two pop into mind, someone deserving of a plate of accomplishment?  It’s your turn to tell!

Coming next: Oh, Beautiful – Amber Grain & Grainy Amber


49 thoughts on “A Plate, a Parade, and a Song

  1. I want a “Love” button for this post instead of a Like button. I love the idea of a Plate of Accomplishment. I can definitely imagine having done this when our children were younger–and there most definitely would have been a song.

    I like that we were both celebrating family accomplishments on the 4th this year, Marian! Your grandchildren are lovely, and I think it’s wonderful that they are also so kind and caring.

    As far as deserving a plate of accomplishment–older daughter just won a major award for her social justice artwork, and she just got a new job!


      1. Perhaps, Marian. In the interview my daughter did, she said that her grandmother (my mother) influenced her and talks of her fond memories of painting with her when she was a child.


  2. It looks like you have some special grandchildren. Well, they are all special even if they don’t get a certificate. Continue to enjoy your grandchildren as we all do.


    1. From the looks of your Facebook page, you think your grand-kids are special too, and so they are! We don’t have the day-to-day routine with them any more, so we notice their uniqueness. Anyway, that’s my conclusion.


  3. Love that plate. Recognition is great. I wish I would have been as creative as you and many of your readers. I’m learning😀. We just take them for ice cream or dinner. I’m going to do the special effort to make their favorite dessert of dinner. I have to find a special plate. Your grandchildren are beautiful and very blessed with the long line of strong family values. My mother never remembers our birthday someone has to reminder her to call the sibling on their birthday. Except for her two oldest. No she’s not senile nor demetia she just never did anything for any of us. It’s fine we all survived it some better than others. We still love her😘😘.


    1. I don’t think you should minimize what you do for your family. They are blessed to have you as grandma and aunt. Best of all, you have shown that it’s possible to break a negative cycle and serve as a good role model. I know your family loves and admires you too. That’s what I noticed when you visited during Mother’s home-going last August.


  4. Love this idea, Marian, and I understand everything you said about the sin of pride that confused some of us growing up into thinking humility meant a posture of invisibility. I also love the emphasis on character in your grand-children’s schools. “Catch them doing something right” is a great mantra for teaching, servant leadership, and child rearing.

    I’m scheming of a way to adapt this idea to our first full-family vacation together at Long Beach Island this summer.


    1. I can imagine a beach setting, another lollapalooza! Or maybe something more low key, as the children are younger.

      About the sin of pride – I remember you commented in the Introduction to BLUSH about your own struggle within the confines of Church dogma during this period. Proud of their humility perhaps?

      Thanks for faithfully reading/commenting here. I do look forward to a blog piece or FB posting about your Long Beach Island reunion. So blessed we are!


  5. What lovely grandkids you have, Marian. And yes, deserving of recognition for their actions. I also love the new tradition of celebrating them with a special plate or blog post.


    1. Patrick had his pencil fly off the desk and then bounce into many different directions. I think one of them included flying down spouting. I’m not sure whether he’ll choose the arts or sciences as a career. He loves robotics with Legos, but he enjoys writing too. Maybe he’ll do both.

      Thank you for noticing the details. I so enjoyed your post about titles today. I hope comment readers will click on your name and find another entertaining post. You turn “infotainment” into a worthy word, Marylin.


  6. Your grandchildren are a beautiful and talented group, Marian. What a fabulous tradition you have started, and one that will most likely be passed on for generations to come. I think it is wonderful that you have reversed that ” sin of pride ” to a special recognition of unique achievements.You are a loving and hip grandma!


    1. No one has ever called me a hip grandma. But if you think so, it must be true.

      As I recall, you have seven (7!) grand-boys that make you proud too. Thanks for appearing here often, Kathy. 😉


  7. Marian — I absolutely adore the PLATE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT idea you’ve shared in this post. How doggon’ fantastic, and a great memory-maker, too! Who’s going to ever forget being recognized like that? No one!


    1. I came across the idea highlighted in Dan Blank’s weekly newsletter, which I think is one of the hotlinks in the post. His mention sparked the idea and the rest is history. In your work as life coach, you can see the value of personal, specific affirmation. Thanks, heaps, Laurie! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. See all the moms and grand-moms you have inspired with your whiz-bang idea. I’m sure many of my readers will try to replicate or adapt what they’ve seen here. Hip-Hip-Hooray to the Plate of Accomplishment today, and thanks for responding here too, Laura.


  8. I have just chanced upon your blog through another and what a delighful idea and lovely grand children. Alas I have no plate so I am digging deeply into the recess of my mind and I have silver spoons, a mincer ( which I still use) and a lovely scotty dog door knocker so methinks I am going to have a think.Thank you for jogging this grey matter. 🙂


    1. First of all, thanks for knocking on my door today, even if it’s not with our lovely Scotty dog door knocker – ha! You are joining several English readers here, along with a few from Wales.

      I have already taken at peak at your website and commented there too. It sounds as though you are enjoying retirement, living in exotic Thailand, and exploring various hobbies, along with serious writing. Welcome, welcome!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I admire you for your commitment to your religion . I thnk you deserve the plate of achievement…well done . Three cheers each for your lovely grandchildren …well done to them too.
    I made a plate of jam tarts once …they never hit the plate …gone in an instant , in fact the plate was still warm hee tee.
    I am going to give the plate of achievement to my husband because he works tirelessly . He has been committed to building our house , whilst still trying to keep his own business afloat …three cheers for him too.


    1. Thank you for all the plaudits here. And of course the humor sprinkled throughout: home-made jam tarts are too good anyway to laze around on a plate. Do you serve them with clotted cream, I wonder?

      I’m going to add cheers to your hubby. (You’ll have to let him know-ha!) He sounds like an over-achieve: hip-hip-hooray for him too! 😉


  10. Sorry mis read the word …accomplishment as achievement . They mean the same in my book . Where are thoes glasses of mine ….


  11. Ah, so delightful Marian thank you! The photos of the grandchildren and their accomplishments have made my day! Yes, people must be acknowledged no matter how great or small their whiz-bang accomplishments. I agree with the comments – you’re one hip grandma! I’ll do this for my sons when I see them next – maybe a cake with little flags with writing on each slice – actually I’m getting carried away here. Back to the drawing board I go –


    1. I’m getting carried away just reading this. I’d love to see the cake with little flags of accomplishment on each slice. Delightful idea! I see a blog post a-comin’ for you down the pike here, Susan!

      Keep us posting for sure!


  12. A wonderful gallery, showing your teacher heart. Several families at our church have used the “red plate” tradition to celebrate individual accomplishments, great report cards, birthdays and special achievements. I was pleased (and a shout out for) Mary Lou McMillin, who gave each of our daughters (two so far) at their bridal showers a “red plate” place setting to use with their own families. It was cute to learn on FB that someone else supplied your cupcake pictures when you were to busy to manage to “get the shot.” That wasn’t the point anyway, eh?

    And I love the quote from Zephaniah. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it highlighted before. Nice!


    1. I’d like to know more about the red plate tradition. It’s a place setting too? What a neat way to ensure that parents in future generations will “catch their children doing something right” and rewarding them for it.

      You often tease out the odd details on my posts that others may overlook. We must be kindred spirits, Melodie. Thanks always!


      1. I think there was a whole place setting that came with my daughter’s bridal shower gifts, but let me ask them. I’ll also ask Mary Lou where she gets them or if it just a “red plate.” Actually getting around to use them at the proper time may be a bit more challenging, at least until Sam and James get a bit older!


  13. What outstanding young people! And what a great idea.

    It’s great to honor people for their accomplishments, to encourage them to keep doing their best. It’s like saying, “Thank you for doing your best.” It’s encouragement, and it doesn’t necessarily lead to pride. I think “pride” comes when we think our accomplishments make us better than others.

    Funny — I was so busy reading about your grandchildren’s awesome accomplishments, I wasn’t even thinking about anyone else’s.


    1. The idea was borrowed – stellar, don’t you think! The “pride” thing was a reference to my own upbringing, which suggests to me a flaw in the culture back then. How it’s changed since then, thank God!

      Thank you for the sweet comment. The idea is applicable to adults too – that chef wizard of a husband you have, who has produced many note-worthy plates of accomplishment – and to you too! Thanks, Tracy . . .

      Liked by 1 person

  14. How lovely to be blessed with your beautiful grandkids Marian. The plate is beautiful, but know that once it’s covered with cupcakes, that’s what counts most for kids. I also love that the children are recognized for wonderful character attributes. That’s a kind sort of award. And I do believe every child needs a little recognition. 🙂


    1. Thanks – Yes, I do count my blessings, you betcha!

      Until my daughters showed me these certificates, I had no idea teachers nowadays took the time to recognize outstanding character traits. Bless their hearts! 😉

      I hope you are recuperated from your Vegas trip – followed on Facebook, of course.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Marian … what a lovely way to recognize the accomplishments of others. Congratulations to your grandchildren. Forget the pride thing. If we’re quick to condemn when there’s something wrong, we should also be quick to praise as, I think, it only encourages folks to do more praise-worthy things. 😉


  16. I honor my son David who had a hard time in his early years and flunked out of college for lack of interest in anything beyond socializing. Years later, he went back to school for computer training, refusing financial help from his parents since we’d already paid for his first attempts. In time he worked for IBM and Lenova and then began his own computer business. Finally, he married a woman of my dreams–fortunately of his, too.


    1. David is a man of integrity. His record speaks for itself. Just a guess, but I imagine David was not challenged early enough in his academic life and possibly had a learning style much different from the teaching methods he was subjected to.

      I like happy endings. Thank you for sharing David’s story here.


  17. What a wonderful idea! And congratulations to all your grandchildren on their respective achievements. I agree that it’s important to give credit where it’s due, especially with children, as it encourages them to do well. My Dad used to pay us for our grades in school: the higher the grade, the more money we got! 🙂 🙂 🙂


    1. What positive motivation. Unless there’s a learning-challenged child in the family, this pay for grades would work well, as your example shows. Why not reward students for doing the right thing! Yay, for your dad. Thanks for sharing this, Fatima!


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