My Grandmother’s Teacups

“Come along inside . . . we’ll see if tea and buns can make the world a better place.” – The Wind in the Willows


Children celebrate everyday. It need not be a holiday to have a feast; tea parties are allowed anytime you wish. You invite your friends, pets, stuffed animals and dolls and set the table with the fanciest things you have. As a small child, I spent many hours gazing at my grandmother’s teacups, silver and crystal. As I got older, I learned how to polish silver and helped my grandmother make her treasures look their shiniest best. Grandma always set a “fancy” table for us. She brought out the linen, crispy white, freshly pressed and spread it on the beautiful antique table. I was fascinated with the bureau standing next to the table that housed the intricately carved forks, spoons and knives which she would bring out for me to set at each place setting. Embroidered napkins, brass candlesticks whose crystal drops dangled and clinked together in the early evening breeze signaled how special having dinner at Grandma’s was going to be. Glass doorknobs on the french doors reflected all the glittering tabletop finery.
There is something really wonderful about eating a meal from the very finest plates, cups and saucers with candlelight and flowers. And sharing that joy with others increases the pleasure immensely.
As part of the Grünewald Guild Liturgical Arts week, we celebrated the tradition of afternoon tea. I was transported to the days of my childhood as I shared my grandmother’s teacups with friends. It is not possible to take for granted the scent of freshly harvested mint in a tea served in a precious reminder of the past. Staying in the moment, savoring the heady fragrances, set the stage for a contemplative, sensuous experience. Each dainty cup is essentially a botanical entry into a bone china compendium of flowers, fanciful or natural. Add in the music of the mystic composer and botanist, Hildegard of Bingen, accompanied by the visual element of a constant stream of floral imagery in some ways, you are able to experience some of the same delightful benefits of sitting amongst the seasons frilliest and fanciest blooms in the garden.

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