This morning we’re sipping tea from a china cup because we’re celebrating life and the woman who gave it to us.
More than a decade ago, my grandma packed up her everyday china and sent it back to Wisconsin with me. A sense of practicality and control, her two main attributes, led her to dole out her worldly possessions to her 11 grandchildren while she was still around to supervise the distribution.
Because she’d packed it herself in tight bundles of newspaper and packing tape, the china made the 12-hour drive home from Pennsylvania in better shape than any of the other wilting occupants of our minivan.
Fourteen carat memories plated each piece and, with well-intentioned though misplaced caution, I tucked them away, still wrapped, for many years.
Each bowl reminded me of Grandma’s meaty vegetable soup, ladled generously and served with halubkis and fresh bread. Each cup spoke of Grandma’s favorite pastime — tea and gossip — and the many hours we spent sitting at her kitchen table delicately sipping the first and naughtily sharing the second.
Eventually, my Aunt Martha, grandma’s only daughter, set me straight. She told me Grandma gave me the china so I would use it. She said I shouldn’t be afraid to take it out and that it wouldn’t really matter if something broke.
So I began serving extra special meals on Grandma’s china (hand washed and gently placed in a protected cabinet afterward.)
I pulled the cups out today because life is so brutally finite that you can’t waste a single moment and sometimes you need to raise a precious china cup to toast an ordinary Monday.