My friends Leann Sweeney, Jennifer Stanley (also known as Ellery Adams) and I recently held a contest for our readers. The prizes? Two lovely teacups and/or five tea bag holders.
Tea parties and pretty bone china tea cups have a special place in our hearts. For me, just gazing at the pretty patterns, and the delicate cups (in many shapes and sizes) takes me to a more peaceful, beautiful place. A place where you can enjoy your surroundings, and partake of a lovely custom of taking tea.
I collect teacups, and have a collection of about 30 or so. (I posted all of them on my Facebook author page earlier this year. Go have a look--but you'll have to scroll back through several months worth of posts.) I'm lucky enough to have inherited a lovely tea set from my grandmother, and my mother gave me her Royal Albert Silver Maple tea set. I love them both, but must admit I'm afraid to use my grandmother's cups and saucers. So few of the cups survived.
Leann talked about her collection: "As a child of an alcoholic mother, I sought beauty in my life anywhere I could find it. We lived in England when I was a toddler and my parents collected bone china, Wedgwood, Dresden and Hummels while we were there. They also bought a lovely small display case. Once we were back in the states, my sister arrived in the world. As we both grew, we would spend hours staring at those small pieces of china. We loved what they represented--a lovely party, a time where people were polite and civil and smiled over a cup of tea. We longed for peace in our lives even as children.
"Those beautiful tea cups and figurines took on special significance because we couldn't touch them, just as we couldn't touch my mother's heart and make her well. But we could wish. Today, we own them all and display them proudly. Part of my new home is designed with a built-in display case, as well as cabinets with glass fronts so we can continue to honor these lovely remembrances."
We wanted to share the rembrances from some of our readers.
Our first prize winner for the Floral cup is Karen K. from Rochester, NH. Karen told us: As a child I had a great-aunt that had a tea cup collection, and I remember the beautiful but dainty cups and saucers with great fondness. This contest would be just the thing to start a collection of my own.
The winner of the Roses cup is: Vicky H. from Garden Grove, CA. Vicki said: "My favorite tea cup is one that has 'sister' (written) on it. They are part of a set (the other has brother on it.) They belonged to my father's step-dad and when my grandmother passed away. The brother one went to my brother and the sister one went to my sister. When she passed away a few years ago at 47, I got it, so it not only reminds me of my grandmother and step-grandfather, but of my sister."
Our red or white tea bag holders go to the following readers, who also shared a tea-time memory:
Gloria W. from Boeme, TX: "I have a cup and saucer from my grandmother’s china. She was an avid gardener and always had the most beautiful flowers."
Lynn Marie S. from Goshen, CT: "My children love me to make loose leaf tea so we can do tea leaf readings like Harry Potter!"
Katherine C. from Oxon Hill, MD: "I remember my 'Elegant Aunt,' who always served afternoon tea in a similar pattern to Floral. I was four so it was milky tea, but I was allowed to drink from that beautiful cup."
Mary C. from Blaine, MN: "Shortly after I graduated from college (1973) my mother gave me a teapot that was decorated with a floral pattern. The teapot was stoneware, from a local gift shop, and nothing specia,but I liked the floral decoration because it had several different types of flowers in addition to the standard rose."
Marguerite G. of Meeker, OK: "I have a set of children's china tea cups that my great grandmother gave to me. I can remember many happy hours sharing "cups of tea" with her and my grandmother!"
Those getting an assortment of our bookmarks are:
Mari R., Maple Grove, MN
Adrienne J., West Babylon, NY
Toni M., Claudville, VA
Terri A., Michigan City, IN
Renae D., Worthington, MN
Jane S., Chicago, IL
Mary I., River Vale, NJ
Gwen B., Katy, TX
Heather H., Spotsylvania, VA
Jennifer W., Glenolden, PA
Brooke B., Neffs, OH
Beth M., Chicago Park, CA
Michele H., Bethany Beach, DE
Debbie C., Casselberry, FL
Tonja M., Orrville, OH
Suzanne H., Mobile, AL
Congratulations and thank you to all who entered our summer tea party contest!