China & Tea

Motivated by my biannual, ironclad, inflexible and completely self-imposed, imaginary deadline, I was out just after sunrise this morning washing my windows. Since we got these replacement windows I wash them twice a year, before Christmas decorations go on and before Easter. They look sparkly and enhance neighbor supervision wonderfully.
The other more private chore is the biannual washing of the china and its’ cabinet. It’s a big job, a picky job and even a dangerous job but boy is it worth it. I missed the pre-Christmas wash as who cares what your china looks like in its’ den of iniquity, when you’re in Jamaica? Now that I’ve rearranged the display for more variety of teacups and saucers and less mind-numbing repetition of a lovely pattern of old Lennox. I go in just to turn on the little light and gaze on the wondrous display. Most men don’t understand china cabinets and their draw, Dan does. He loves all that is elevated and fancy my ‘fancy Dan’ loves anything that pleases me and allows him to live in the manner to which he’s become accustomed.
Normally I avoid china cabinets like the plague, circumventing rooms that would be a good cut-through to save me the accursed rattle. This cabinet is expertly leveled and installed by my German perfectionist and we live on a slab so no give to the floors and thus no rattle. My daughters have absolutely no idea how lucky they are not having to worry about treading like bigfoot on their path to the laundry room.
I love china and teacups. Momma never had china until later in life and I have no memories associated with it. She did have 4 Red Rose Tea promotional teacups stashed above the fridge in an amazingly greasy cabinet (Momma fried stuff and the vent on the wall was by that cabinet, also Dad had a fully functional machine shop in the basement for his hobby jobs).

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When Louis and Anne Roche, Momma and Dad’s childless friends from their single days, would drop over unexpected but very welcome, Mary Lou and I would be turned loose to get ‘the tea.’ We’d get a chair, scale the counter, reach the cabinet and bring down with great care those 4 cups and saucers. Momma would slip Mary Lou a five and whisper ‘go get a sweet,’ the most popular and scarce food group. Mary would run to Andy’s, the corner store, to get something, packaged Danishes mostly and I would wash off the protective covering of bacon fat from the teacups. How we enjoyed getting the ‘tea on’ for these dear and very exotic friends of our parents. They were out for an entertaining ride and possibly to get a taste of what could have been before running back to their orderly life.
The stuff in a house only has meaning if it is used. I use my stuff, the good china every big holiday so my girls will have memories associated with those old-fashioned carnations on a field of Lennox ivory and gold. The teacups are prominently displayed now in the china cabinet, a promotion from their previous perch in my kitchen bookcase and their safe retreat above the refrigerator in Momma’s tiny kitchen on Roger’s Drive. I’m so blessed by these memories and the leisure to enjoy the refined things in life, that is when I’m not under some crazed deadline.

by Theresa Jay Julian 

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