Home > INSPIRATIONS > In Loving Memory, “A Christmas Tea of Comfort and Joy”

In Loving Memory, “A Christmas Tea of Comfort and Joy”

In 2010, my husband and I contributed a "Christmas Tea" vignette to the Cancer Society's Annual Festival of Trees fundraiser in his mother's memory. The display was one of several open for public viewing in the lobby of the Delta Hotel for the month of November and was later auctioned, along with a host of trees and other generously donated items, at a gala dinner held in early December. Elevated on a footed, glass cake plate and encircled with faux cedar, berries and shiny glass baubles, the teapot is the crowning jewel of this precious tablescape.

 

Hello, Friends!

Welcome back.  I’m glad you’re here today.  While the tea’s steeping in the pot, let’s sit and chat for awhile…

Even though the Christmas season has passed, I thought I’d share with you a couple of the ways in which my husband and I honoured the memory of his mother who passed away in November 2009.  Perhaps these tributes will inspire you to remember a loved one in a most memorable and meaningful way.

In Christmas 2008, we had gifted for auction a holiday tannebaum and companion wreath to the Canadian Cancer Society’s Annual Festival of Trees in my father’s memory (he loved the Christmas season).  Knowing how my mother-in-law kept Christmas in her heart, and how much she loved sharing over a pot of tea, we decided to make a gift  with ‘a twist’ to The Festival in her memory – a festive tea tablescape.  We knew she would love that. The musings below accompanied the display donated for the Society’s 2010 auction, relating the significance of our tribute.

 

“A CHRISTMAS TEA OF COMFORT & JOY

If I close my eyes, I can see my mom-in-law’s beautiful face.  She is standing at her kitchen table steeping “a cuppa”.  I can hear the chinking of teacups – some china, shiny and new and yet to be christened; some chipped already with an abundant history embedded in their porcelain rims. I can smell her signature cinnamon rolls, still warming in the oven yet to be topped with glorious peaks of delicious pearly white frosting.  Hers is a simple kitchen room.  There are no trendy fabrics or pricey furniture to be found here; yet it is the most welcoming place I’ve ever been.  It radiates the essence of warmth, comfort and contentment from every corner, a welcome respite away from the world outside.  The teacups now sit on the worn wooden tabletop anticipating the restorative amber brew to be poured, the hands that will hold them and the lively conversation to follow…

Dainty cream-and-sugar vessels with themed napkins

My mom-in-law was a good listener.  Some of our best chats were over a pot o’ tea.  Somehow, it was always brewed just right, creating the want for a second ‘cuppa’ and the opportunity to linger longer.  Her teas with fresh-from-the-oven whole wheat bread toasted to perfection are legendary.  Seemingly, relaxing in a plumped comfy chair, sharing a pot of steaming brew, the day would almost instantly improve.

The holiday message on the inside of individual teacups: "Tidings of Comfort and Joy"

A porcelain music-box Father Christmas from COSCTO befits this cheerful tea setting. My mom-in-law would have loved it!

Large glittery-glass ornaments and sparkly luxe ribbons adorn a faux cedar wreath - a festive companion to the tea table. The wreath, hung on a wrought-iron floor stand with a pretty pineapple finial at its top, is placed adjacent to the tea table. Rather than being hung on a wall, it provides an unexpected and charming touch.

In testament to my mother-in-law's religious faith, a beautiful angel emerges from the boughs of the wreath and blesses the scene. Yuletide adornments of ornaments and angels, fancy ribbons and fairy lights, traditionally reserved for Christmas trees are given an honourary place on this wreath.

My mom-in-law was an angel on earth with wide wings of hospitality and a heart stuffed full of kindness and caring, which she genuinely imparted to anyone who walked through her door.  The tea kettle, never far from reach, and the table were always at the ready with a goodly supply of all manner of tea vessels.  Her ‘tea things’ collection spanned the kitchen, if not the entire house.  Some occupied the cupboards; others found a home on the numerous shelves and strategically placed hooks in various nooks and crannies in the pantry; and the more delicates inhabited the glass hutch lodged against the kitchen wall; while others simply sat on the windowsill catching sunbeams.  Some were inherited from her mother and grandmother; some were gifts from friends and loved ones brought from their travels.  Many of them still pristine, many more now chipped from constant use.  In her eyes, none had outlived their usefulness or were to be ever cast aside.  No matter how battered, each one had meaning and each one was significant, much how she viewed the people in her life.  It was the chipped teacups that she perhaps cherished the most for these held the ‘stories’ of peoples’ lives.

A magnificent merry-red satin tablecloth with exquisite appliqué trims brings on a smile...The cloth was purchased at Living Rooms Downtown. A prettily wrapped 'gift' with a tag that reads: To: Ethel From: Linda", sits on the chair in anticipation of the fundraising auction to come...

Small cedar wreaths with bows were attached to the chair backs for that extra-special touch of holiday magic...

A teeny oval tin sign with a Christmas greeting is attached to the wreath with an organdy ribbon. My mother-in-law loved to watch from her kitchen window the birds flitting about in her front garden. There was meaning in every detail...

My mom-in-law was a lady with a generous and giant soul.  She exuded a spirit

of quintessential loveliness about her. She was my best friend, kindred spirit and a constant in my life all the years I knew and loved her.   We eagerly shared our passion for the Christmas season.  Through the years, in the weeks leading up to our favorite holiday, we would habitually call each other conversing at great length, comparing notes on gift ideas, trims, craft projects, recipes and traditions old and new.  “Thank goodness for the invention of the Long Distance Package!” we’d often remark to one another.

Love is in the details. Paper napkins with a joyous message: "May the spirit of Christmas be forever in your Heart"

She passed away last November from breast cancer.   After my mom-in-law’s passing, her eldest daughter searched for a special gold-trimmed tea set that her mother had promised to her some months earlier.  After much hunting, it was finally found – tucked away in the attic of my mom-in-law’s home, bundled protectively in layer upon layer of brown paper, surely a testament to the important symbolism it held for her

A teapot of ivory porcelain delivers a merry message: "May you be filled with the Peace and Bounty of the Season and the Love of Family and Friends"

and the value of the ritual of tea in all of our daily lives.  A beloved young granddaughter would later proclaim the quiet sentiment held by all family members that she would forever greatly miss the comforting tradition of  ‘taking tea and toast’ with her grandmother, no matter the time of day or night.

Inspiration:  Emile Barnes and Sandy Cloughman’s beguiling tea books stirred me to write this very special memorial to my mother-in-law.   Her books are available in gift shops and on-line at http://www.amazon.ca.

“There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea.” Bernard Paul Herous

A mid-winter sun beam pours over Santa and my treasured "Holly and Ivy" teapot, both gifts from my husband. Like my mom-in-law, I enjoy the ceremony of 'taking tea' at any time of the day or night.

A unique and thoughtful contribution was also made to the St. John’s Women’s Centre, one of my mother-in-law’s many favourite charities, in the form of bountiful holiday-themed baskets as prizes for their annual Christmas raffle fundraiser.  The winning tickets were drawn at their December 23rd Tibbs Eve Concert at the LSPU Hall.  It was even sweeter when we found out that my husband had sold the first-prize winning ticket to someone in his office!   Here’s what the baskets held, as described on the charity’s website, and a few more photos.  What beautiful ideas!  Be inspired…

FIRST PRIZE – ‘DECK THE HALLS’ BASKET

This stunning basket holds everything you could want for “Ooh-and-Ahh” Holiday decorating….

  • 26” Cedar Wreath with Lights, Luxe Port Ribbons, Charming Gingerbread, Oranges, Pinecones & Cinnamon Sticks
  • Companion Designer Bows – Adornments for Mantel, Banister, Tree –  Wherever you’d like a Merry Touch of Christmas!
  • German Glass Tree Ornaments & Hooks
  • Fragrant Potpourri
  • Holiday Hand Towel
  • Paper Christmas Napkins
  • Gorgeous Scented Candles
  • Taffeta & Velvet Table Runner
  • Handsome Glittered Saint Nicholas & Candle Holder
  • Set/6 Sweet Smelling Cranberry Tea Lights
  • Holiday Music CD “Seasonal Classics with the Stars”
  • Sparkly Gift Tags & Ribbon
  • ’McStevens’ Hot Chocolate Mix
  • Heirloom Storybook “Santa’s Reindeer
  • Holiday Family Movie “Blizzard
  • Handcrafted “FROSTY”
  • Yummy Sweets n’ Treats Galore & More!

SECOND PRIZE – ‘CHRISTMAS MORNING BREAKFAST’ BASKET

This beautiful basket has everything for the perfect start to a wonderful Christmas morning – Fabulous as a very special gift or to treat your own family! YUM! YUM!

  • ’Stonewall Kitchen’ Farmhouse Pancake & Waffle Mix
  • 100% Pure Canadian Maple Syrup
  • Sweet Orange Marmalade
  • Morello Cherry Spread
  • English Breakfast Tea
  • Breakfast Coffee
  • ’Bellagio’ Hot Cocoa Mix
  • ”Taste of Home” Holiday Recipe Book
  • ’Wilton’ Muffin Cups
  • Olive Wood Mixing Spoon
  • ’Paderno’ Measuring Spoons
  • ’Reindeer Run’ Set/3 Ceramic Prep Bowls
  • Kitchen Towel
  • Cheery Tablecloth
  • Yuletide Candle
  • Festive Paper Napkins
  • ‘Christmas Harp’ Music CD

Celebrate the memory of a dear one by offering an unexpected and imaginative gift to a charity they supported.  And, if it can help to raise much-needed funds, then it’s a beautiful thing!

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Categories: INSPIRATIONS
  1. Linda
    2011/02/07 at 8:34 pm

    Again, beautifully written and displayed… I almost craved a cup of tea from the pot to a china cup… I would have had one, only it will keep me up tonight.

    It reminded me of my Grandmother. Nan dearly loves ‘a cup of tea’ (in a cup) with a Purity Lemon Cream…Oh, you brought back such wonderful memories!

    • 2011/02/07 at 9:46 pm

      This seems to strike a chord with so many people. I guess it’s because we all have our own ‘stories’. I love that your Nan’s favourite is the Purity Lemon Creams – a ‘staple’ on many of our grandmothers’ pantry shelves and always in the glass biscuit dish set permanently in the centre of the kitchen table, next to the oil lamp, of course – where else? Lol I’m absolutely thrilled that you enjoyed the read, Lin.

  2. Sharon
    2011/03/12 at 7:41 am

    Hi Linda,

    Your blog is truly an inspiration of time and thought. I really enjoyed your pictures and analogies. Thanks for a wonderful visit.

    Sharon

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