In Loving Memory, “A Christmas Tea of Comfort and Joy”
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…
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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…
- 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!