October 24, 2006

Tea Time: My cup of tea ...

O.k. I'm going to go girlie for a moment. For those of you who know me, that's not really a surprise.

Growing up I loved to look at my Granny's tea cup collection, from afar of course. She kept them on top of the china cabinet, but there was a silver tea set that sat out on the coffee table, probably because it was unbreakable (trust me I dropped them a few times.) My grandmother wasn't a "high class socialite" but she is a firm believer in perfect manners, being polite and getting the most from your education.

I always wanted to start my own collection one day. Something to pass along to my children, along with the stories and memories.

Growing up in my father's house with 11 siblings offered little chance of getting new toys, muchless working on a collection such as tea cups or tea sets. I understood, but still maintained that one day I would have one.

My first tea cups (above) I bought as a senior in high school. I bought them out of a Christmas catalog, you know the one with the chocolate covered fruits and nuts. When they arrived, I was so excited. I unwrapped them an put them on the top shelf above my desk, which was pretty safe at the time as I finally had my own room.

When I left for college I carefully packaged them up and transported them with care to my new home with my mom. At the time she and my stepfather were building their new home so we lived in a makeshift house in "the barn" which is actually a well insulated metal building that is now the warehouse for her company. At the time it was like living in a huge loft with makeshift walls from heavy bookcases and furniture. There they sat on my tiny bookshelf reminding me of what I hoped to one day create.

When I left for the university, I again packed them with care and in 2002 when I traveled to North Carolina for my internship, they took the trip as well. One day while shopping with my summer roommate I found a beautiful mint green tea set with raised pink rose. It took little prodding from her for me to purchase it. Finally, my collection had begun.

At the end of the summer I packaged everything up for the 19-plus hour trip back to Houston. There is the front seat of my purple Fort Ranger sat the carefully boxed tea set and two matching tea cup and saucers. I breathed a sigh of relief when I made it to my new college apartment and unpacked my "collection." I placed them on the only counter in that small efficiency apartment. I had my stepfather's gold "college" couch, a day bed and no room for a kitchen table, but my collection was proudly displayed.

Following graduation, I again packaged my treasures and headed off to my first "home." I was staying in a beautiful four-bedroom house that my grandparents had bought to renovate and with promised to help, I moved in. First things first, out came the collection. Now that I had room, I saved my pennies (literally) and bought a brass table with three glass shelves to display my growing collection. It was actually a towel rack for the bathroom, but it was all I could afford and it worked.

Helping my grandmother go through her "Christmas closet" that year, we found a pretty blue tea-for-one set that included the teapot that steeped on top of the tea cup and had a pretty dessert plate with it (not pictured yet.) So I took my newfound treasure home, thinking about all of Christmases I had helped her go through that closet and placed it on the counter.

In May 2004, I packed up all that I owned (which was very little) and moved to Fort Polk to marry my best friend, George. He's not much of a collection guy, but he let me be. There my collection sat in our temporary living quarters all boxed up waiting for it's next adventure. When we got our housing assignment, George and his best friend Gordon began unloading our household furniture, but my priority was to unpack my collection.

Once settled in, I moved it from one side of the kitchen to the other, before finding it's current resting place. I'm sure George got a little aggravated over my constant moving of it, but being the perfect husband, he knew it was not worth an argument.

The next piece of the collection was when my father came to visit. Shortly after George deployed he drove up (3 hour trip) with my niece Stephanie. We went shopping in the nearby historic town of Natchitoches. At a Christmas/resale store, I found this unique tea saucer who had long lost it's cup and was slightly chipped. The saleslady said she didn't really think anyone would buy it, she had found it when she was going through some boxes and thought she'd put it on the shelf to see if anyone wanted it. She had planned to throw it away but hadn't gotten around to it yet. I had to have it with such a sad story, so $2 later, I had added to my collection.

My latest piece was sent to me by new friend who has helped keep my mind off the of the deployment. She and I exchange gift packages in the mail and in the latest package she send me a collection of tea, cross stitch book of tea cup and a tea pot shaped tea bag holder and spoon.

My collection is slowly taking shape and I am excited to think of the next piece to this puzzle. I guess only time will tell, but it is great to look at all of the pieces and remember the moments in my life that surrounded them. Our future holds many move, meeting new people and one day starting a family. I look forward to the day that I can share these stories with my children. My grandmother never told me the stories of her collection and I don't think I ever asked, but maybe now is the perfect time for a cup of tea ...

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