Monday, March 17, 2008

Teacup-a-story

La-tea-dah of Gracious Hospitality is having a blogging event revolving around tea. Once upon a teapot, I had afternoon tea several times a week, in our "homeschooling days" when my daughters were at home with me. Now they are both in high school, and though my little boys love a "cuppa" tea once in a while, it doesn't have the same feeling of girly elegance that it once had! This week, participants of the Gracious Hospital-i-tea Blog-a-thon are asked to share the story of a favorite tea cup.
When I was a young woman, my maternal grandmother let me know that one day I would inherit her china set. The pieces were lovely: white with a ring of gold and black at the edge. At first, when I received them, I kept them in boxes on a storage shelf. I wanted to display them, but I didn't have a china hutch. On a couple of occasions per year, I would pull them out, wash them and serve a holiday meal... and then, sadly, back into the boxes they would go.

For several summers in a row, I babysat a sweet friend's little daughter. We had the most fun with her: making hollyhock dolls, picnicking in the yard, and playing dress-up. At the end of one summer, because I had not accepted payment for watching our little friend, her mother paid me by giving me the empty china hutch sitting in her basement. It was quite lovely, but she couldn't fit it into her dining room because of windows, doors and an open floor plan.
Finally, I could display my Grandmother's china! I washed it all and placed it in the hutch gently. I burned the ugly cardboard boxes in the yard. Some time later, we discovered that two of the tea cups were still in one of the cardboard boxes at the time they were burned. We found the two cups amid the ashes.

At first, I was devastated. I stood at the sink scrubbing them furiously. Despite my best efforts, each formerly lovely white cup was mottled with brown and black scorch marks. As I stood, blinking back tears, I could almost hear my grandmother chuckle. With a sigh, I decided to keep them. As I set them into the china hutch amid the elegant white china, I thought, "Now they have a story."
"There are so many different ways lives work out, so many stories, and every one of them is precious: full of joy and heartbreak, and a fair amount of situation comedy." ~ Sean Steward, Perfect Circle, 2004

photos by Aisling, March 17, 2008

32 comments:

La Tea Dah said...

Aisling, I think your two decorated china teacups are especially beautiful! The others are elegant, but the 'story' teacups are quirky, fun, and look like they came from a modern art exhibit! They have such an interesting story, from start to finish. I liked reading all about tea with your daughters, the nice china hutch and how your friend graciously shared it with you, and of your grandmother's china. Your closing quote is perfect and oh, so true. It says it all!

I wish I could come and share a cuppa tea with you out of your beautiful charred teacups. What fun that would be.

Enjoy a lovely day!

LaTeaDah

Aisling said...

LaTeaDah, What fun that would be! Thank you for having this blog-a-thon, and for coming by to read my story. :)

Melissa's Cozy Teacup said...

I thought they were marbled! I didn't realize it was burn marks.
Still, they are lovely.

Aisling said...

Melissa, They do look marbled, don't they? Thanks for coming by. I'm eager to read all of the stories posted in response to this blog-a-thon, and will be making the rounds soon. :)

Storybook Woods said...

I love this story becuase is beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Clarice

Aisling said...

Clarice, Thank you! And thanks for visiting! :)

La Tea Dah said...

Aisling, I'm back again. . .still thinking about your teacups. I wanted to share a similar story with you, although my items were not family heirlooms. Shortly after my husband and I moved into a new home as newly weds we unpacked our wedding china and crystal. . .and burned the wrappings and boxes they had come in. Sometime later my husband was cleaning out the burn can and found a beautiful crystal vase that was a wedding gift. He rescued it and it was unbroken, but like your teacups, I have a deeply embedded, black, sooty mark on the vase. At first it really bothered me and I was ready to throw the vase away. I didn't though, and now treasure the story behind it as much as the vase. Memories. . .can be sweet even though not perfect. I am thankful my husband realized the value of that the lost wedding gift that I hadn't even realized I had lost. . .and he rescued it for me.

Thanks for letting me share. . .you took me down memory lane with your post.

LaTeaDah

Aisling said...

LaTeaDah, I'm glad you came back. You can't imagine how glad I am to know I'm not the only one ever to have done such a thing. *grin* Do you use the vase for flower arrangements sometimes, or is it just tucked away somewhere?

BjR said...

What a lovely story, thanks for sharing.

Aisling said...

BjR, Thank you for the nice comment, and for coming by to see my teacup post. :)

Gina E. said...

Hi Aisling,
What a wonderful story! You should write it down in a special notebook, or even make up some kind of document on the computer, and keep it with your dinnerset. What a great family heirloom for future generations - and to have the provenance is so important for those future family members.

Aisling said...

Gina, Thank you for visiting. That is such a good idea. I have been planning to walk around my house with a camera taking a photo of all of special items of sentimental value. Then, I would like to print out a book with the photos and the story of each item. I just need to get from the "planning to" stage to the "doing it" stage! Thanks for the encouragement. :)

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

They are beautifully unique, truly. Before reading your story, I was wondering about them because they simply look as if they were designed that way. Good thing that you heard your grandmother's chuckling or they might have been tossed and that would have been terrible.

Aisling said...

Vee, You're right! I'm glad I held on to them, despite my frustration! There is a lesson in that for me. Things don't have to be in prefect (or original!) condition in order to be valuable and meaningful. My two daughters would probably each like to have one of those mugs one day, and they will remind my girls of their great-grandmother and their silly mother who burned them! lol!

Nan - said...

That is just the best story! And I think they have a beauty all their own.

Aisling said...

Nan,

Thank you! Blogging is a nice format for sharing that story, since I can show the photos too. I would never have thought to tell it without LaTeaDah's blog-a-thon. We're all just full of stories, I think, we just need a little inspiration and a forum in which to share them. Thanks for visiting!

hugs, Aisling

Rapunzel said...

Lovely story, Aisling! I believe that your Grandma would be proud.

Carrie said...

Great story and great post!

Aisling said...

Rapunzel,
Thank you, dear friend!


Carrie,
Thank you for coming by to read it. I've been enjoying all of the teacup stories I've read so far. I think I have some catching up to do, because I don't remember seeing your name on the list when I last checked! Nice to meet you! :)

Nancy J. Bond said...

What a wonderful story and yes, now those cups are all the more special. :) I love china teacups -- I think I'll have to join in. :)

ceekay said...

I also went down memory lane with your teacup story. My aunt and uncle had a house fire many years ago. The only thing left was the fireplace. Unfortunately, they did not keep anything that was damaged. I wish they had. I would have kept it also as a childhood memory. Family heirlooms are precious regardless if they are perfect. Thank you for your sharing.

Charli and me said...

I love your story and I love that you kept them. How nice to have a place to display them. I cherish anything associated with fond memories.

Aisling said...

Nancy, Thank you for commenting. I'm going to check your blog in a minute to see if you ended up joining! :)

Ceekay, Nice to meet you! Thank you for sharing your memory with me. It is sad that no little remnants of family heirlooms were saved after the fire.

Carol, I cherish anything with fond memories too. I've got to be careful not to save *everything* with meaning though. Otherwise, things really pile up! *grin*

MamaBugs said...

Those would instantly become my "Beauty For Ashes" teacups!!!

Stop by sometime...
http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/MamaBugs/499463/

Aisling said...

MamaBugs,

Good point! :)

I'll come by soon! Thank you for visiting me here to read my story.

lisag3@actrix.co.nz said...

Just imagine your children telling the story to their children of how grandma burned the cups. I think they are going to be very special for a long time to come.

Rue said...

Hi there :)
I found you through the tea-a-thon.
I seriously thought they were made that way! You made tears in my eyes, because like you I would've been blubbering over the sink trying to clean them too. I believe that heirlooms should be used, but I cry every time one breaks or chips. Anyway, I understand what you went through.

Thank you for sharing your story,
Rue :)

topaztook said...

Wow, when I saw the picture at the top of this post, I assumed those were teacups from a very pricey purchase...and they are priceless, but in a different way. What a great story they have!

Aisling said...

lisa g - Thank you for visiting. Your comment made me giggle. It will be a fun story for my children to tell to their children.

Rue, I'm so glad you found me. I've found many of the teacup stories more touching than I would have expected. Who knew how much meaning and sentiment we all had in our china hutches!

Nice to "meet you" both. :)

Aisling said...

Topaz, Thank you! :)

Aislinn said...

This is so funny... I was looking for an article on how to make a vase out of stacked teacups, because I'm throwing a mad hatter tea party, and I came across your blog.... I love the little story, but then I saw your name! We have the same name! I live in Mexico so it is rare when I come across annother Aisling (my mom is from belfast, she decided to take off the g and add another n... she thought mexicans counldnt handle the ng thing ha!)

Aisling said...

Aislinn,

I'm glad you found me! Hope you also found the info you were looking for; a mad hatter party sounds like a blast.

Aisling is actually just my blogging name. I love the sound and meaning of the name, so when I gave my family all their blogging names, I chose this one for myself. Your Mom has good taste in names! *grin*

How fun to meet you. :)