A Present From The Past

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When my grandmother passed, I received many of her exquisite china tea cups and saucers. Patterns of tiny blossoms: orange, purple and blue. Gold leaf and red rose. I placed them in the special kitchen cabinet with the glass door so I could see them.

Nan E. we called her, my mom’s Mom, to distinguish from Nan O, my dad’s Mom. Blessed to still have Nan O. with us, Nan E. is dearly missed and beloved by our entire family.

The china I received of Nan E.’s joined the china cup and saucer given to me after another of my “grandmothers” passed on. I was sixteen years old when I did the math and realized I had more sets of grandparents than parents.

Joe and Anna Mae were grandparents to me and my sister. They had been surrogate parents to Mom when she was young and had moved away from home after marrying. We visited Joe and Anna Mae on occasion and I loved the tiny sandwiches Anna Mae served us with tea, and the enormous crabapple tree bursting with fruit in her yard.

I kept the china behind glass, not wanting anything to happen to the cherished effects of these two wonderful women who had brought much grace, love and nourishment to my life.

Then one day I remembered Nan E. talking about how she and Grandpa used to have company over for tea and toast and a visit. Friends gathering together. Tea and toast.

I loved the image in my mind of couples around the table, lots of laughter and the simplicity of tea and toast.

So one day I pulled the china from its showcase cabinet, washed it up and put it out on the table. It was spring and I was having an open house. I had picked up mini cupcakes. My aunt was stopping by, my mom’s sister. It was her birthday. It seemed the perfect day to bring out Nan E.’s china.

The girls were coming – clients, friends, neighbours and family – and we were going to carry on the tradition of friends gathering for tea, with proper cups.

The girls were there, and Anna Mae and Nan E. in their own way, honoured. Mothers and grandmothers, daughters and friends. Generations of conversation, laughter and love.

I bring the cups out more often now. The toast may have become cupcakes or fruit or chocolate, but the tea remains, as does the china. New memories from an old tradition. A present from the past.

 

Get out the china and gather the girls

Mothers in gold, Grandmothers in pearls

Share stories and memories, laughter and tea

Sip from the cups with raised pinky

Honour the old and celebrate the new

Pass along to the next generation when through

 

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