The Teacup Lesson
Updated: Jul 7, 2021
Years and years ago, I hosted a Thanksgiving dinner.
This is noteworthy, as I have only, in my life, hosted one Thanksgiving dinner, as cooking is not my favorite avenue of recreation, and because of this, i don’t feel comfortable or confident to host a tasty meal. Even though this particular thanksgiving worked out well.
But I digress.
My parents were there, along with my uncle and aunt, my best friend, her husband, and his parents. We used Grandma’s china--Lenox Eternal, for those who care about the specifics. Because that’s what we do, in my family, when we have dinner parties--we use Grandma’s china. It’s important, it’s part of our shared family history. It was an honor for her to have chosen me to pass it down to, and it makes me feel good to serve my family with it--especially my mom and her brother. It’s very special to me.
When dinner was over, the coffee maker was almost done. I stood in the kitchen doing whatever it was i was doing, and my uncle came in, opened the cupboard where I kept my everyday mugs, and grabbed a big one.
“I can’t fit my fingers through the damn china, and they don’t hold enough coffee at the same time” he shrugged, pouring himself a cup of coffee.
I was flabbergasted. How dare he not use Grandma’s china footed cup and saucer set that I had so painstakingly, so lovingly laid out? I stared at him as he sipped it, nodded, gave himself a refill, then went back to join the rest of the family.
Now, I have always been a tea drinker, a fan of attending high teas--on cruise ships, around the world, at Disneyland, whenever I could get someone to join me. Tea party? I am in! At some point I had a huge realization: tea tastes better in fine china than it does in a mug. Is it because I feel fancier? Who knows. But I like it better. And with this realization began my teacup collection.
There used to be a tea room in Long beach, California that I would take friends to for birthdays. It was particularly fun because first you went into their closet to choose a large hat, and then you went to their Wall ‘o Teacups to choose your teacup, and then, hat on head and china tea cup in hand, you were seated. At one of my adventures there, I lingered in their shop next door before we left. Who am I kidding, I always visit tea shops. They had all the cute tea accoutrements you could ever ask for, from tiny tea spoons to full matching china sets with creamer and sugar bowl. There were tea sets for children decorated with Alice and friends. I browsed, I And then I saw them.
Two. huge. china. teacups.
They looked like they held two cups of tea. The handle looked comfortable, so I picked one up and sure enough, as dainty as it was, it fit easily in my fingers. I had never encountered such wondrous teacups before!
“Are there more than two? I’ll take them” I exclaimed to the clerk, as she sadly shook her head. “no, “ she told me. “Just those two. They aren’t making them any longer.”
I bought the two and went home, sure that my internet sleuthing skills would bring me more, which, unfortunately, did not happen. Using the two, tho, became my Sunday morning tradition, and I was very happy with them, sometimes posting Sunday morning pictures of tea, books, and dogs for the pleasure of my Facebook friends.
This went on for years and years, until last fall when i thought to myself, “what if. What if they started to make them again?” A quick internet search led me to the new version of the same teacup--wider handle this time, but still large and covered in roses-- and I bought myself two more, along with the matching teapot, creamer, and sugar bowl. These are now proudly displayed in my kitchen. I put more teacups on my wishlist hoping that I would get them for my birthday so that I would have a complete set, and I did (thank you, bestie!).
So, now, instead of teensy teacups that I drink from with pinky in the air because I have to pinch the handle instead of properly holding it, I can sip from one comfortable yet still dainty mug. And now, when I do Facebook Lives or Zooms, I usually drink out of my Teacups Of Unusual Size, and I don’t have to refill and refill. They are awesome and I love them.
Grandma’s china is still important to me. I will use the plates and serving dishes, but for after dinner tea and coffee, I will offer my guests my large bone china mugs, once I start having guests over again, after COVID is over. My uncle was right, and I appreciate the lesson about fitting life into my needs, rather than stuffing my needs into what life is currently offering--even when it means bucking tradition and making your incredulous niece stare at you, mouth agape in horror.
So, where are you sacrificing comfort because of a tradition that may no longer serve you? In what ways can you make your life more yours? Being aware of your needs and making sure that they are being met is a huge step towards a fulfilled life. That’s what I want for you.