Mom’s Tea Cups ©

A family’s tea cups speak to Bobbi Rankin

tea cupsThe English have a long-standing tradition of afternoon tea.  It’s a social event, a way to meet people and when the chips are down they always find comfort and stability in coming together for tea and cucumber sandwiches.

This ancient tradition was carried over the pond by my great grandmother when her daughter, my grandmother, was very young.  Their destination was a small town in Montana where they settled to live, work and raise their children.  As my grandmother established her own home and family, she made it a point to serve afternoon tea.  Serving tea in the dainty cups and saucers helped to bring to this uncivilized cowboy town, the civility and comfort this tradition represented.

My mother grew up with this tradition flowing through her veins and cherished her own cup of afternoon tea.  I can still see this dignified woman (The 1950’s Woman) holding the saucer in her left hand and with her pinkie poised, the cup in her right.   She would gaze out the window seemingly to remember the afternoon teas spent with her mother.

As the years went on and my parents left Montana to capture a new life in California, my mom brought along her cherished tea cup collection.  This collection no longer sat on an open wooden shelf in the kitchen of their Montana countryside home.  Instead, my mom created a place of honor for those precious porcelain pieces and the memories they inspired.  She purchased a tall, lighted cabinet that proudly displayed her cup and saucer collection.

My mom never lost the place a cup of afternoon tea filled in her daily life, until came the time when this tradition was replaced with jobs and family related restraints.  However, she held onto the pure enjoyment that drinking tea brought her and the place it held in the social gatherings of family and friends.

tea cupsThe day finally came when I had to decide what to do with her collection.  While I do enjoy an occasional cup of tea, I’m a coffee drinker.  When I would drink tea at my mom’s home, I’d gladly use her cup and saucer.  Anywhere else, I’m happy with a mug.  You see where this is going, I’m sure.  Literally, what am I to do with this collection?  My mom kept many things she never used.  I’m one who keeps only what I use and let others have the overflow.

I did find a solution in giving away a set to any members of our family who wanted to treasure my mom’s memory.  I too kept the set I most frequently used when sharing a cup with her.  This English tradition doesn’t flow through my veins but the memory of that time of precious civility and afternoon tea with my mom comes flowing back to me whenever I see the set sitting proudly in the corner of my kitchen, right next to my favorite mug.

photos courtesy  Bobbi Rankin

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10 Responses to Mom’s Tea Cups ©

  1. Your post reminds me of the bone china cups and saucers that my mother had from her mother, some of them handed down from her grandmother who was from England, and some given to her as wedding gifts back in the 1890s. Beautiful things, they were used on special occasions when company came. My brother and his wife have some of them. Thank you for writing and sharing about yours.

    • Bobbi Parker

      Yes George, they were delicate and beautiful. My great grandparents came to the US in the 1890’s so we have some familiar insight into tea drinking and china cups.
      Thanks for sharing your comments with me.

  2. Cathy Reineke

    This is wonderful. It brought back memories of my mother’s tea cups she used for her “bridge parties.” Another epoch when wives had such time without the constraints of full time jobs.

    • Bobbi Parker

      It seem as if many of us have similar remembrances of a time in the past. A time without the constraints of todays busy world.
      Thanks Cathy……….

  3. Nice post! Sometimes physical objects are the best reminders of those loved ones from our past. With my dad, it’s a photo of him with his flight crew in the Korean War.

    • Bobbi Parker

      Memories are best, I think, when not cluttered with junk that doesn’t mean as much. The picture of your dad is simple and it tells a story. Thanks Kent for sharing that thought.

  4. What a nice story! The cups and saucers you kept are a beautiful reminder of you and your Mom having tea together….a precious memory that you can cherish forever 🙂

    • Bobbi Parker

      What piece of memorabilia do you have that is precious to you Joan. Sometimes, as Kent wrote, it is simply a meaningful photo.
      Thanks and I’m glad you liked my story.

  5. What a wonderful post! I have a set of hand-painted china made especially for my mom. Have no idea what to do with it. I wish I liked tea!

  6. Bobbi Parker

    I know what you mean….as you read I too had that dilemma. Being a died in the wool coffee drinker, I’m happy with my solution.
    Maybe my story will inspire you. Thanks Jess.