October 28, 2012

A Genuine Gesture

Two weeks ago I dropped into Armidale to visit my in-laws before heading on down to Melbourne the next day. They're in the latter half of their seventies and very conscious of the fact that time is not on their side.

Mother-in-law is on a mission to 'give-a-way' or to bequest as many of her possessions as possible to the family while she is still alive. I don't envy the position she is in. Why? Way too many possessions and quite frankly it would do my head in.

My husband is the 'child' who moved away and to be perfectly honest we have not bought into the family politics and all that goes with living close to ones rels. We've always felt that the others were "more considered" than us. Why? Actions speak louder than words. Are we envious or jealous? Not in the least! In fact we feel rather 'free' from it all and "that's the way we like it." (Loved KC and the Sunshine in the seventies.)

I for one have refused to play the games. I won't say which 'pieces' or which 'artwork' or which 'furniture' or which any bloody thing I like best. Won't do it. Full stop. I'm not after anything. I don't want a thing. Some validation and "you're doing a good job with the kids" would have been nice. Never mind.

As we spoke about who's doing what, I mentioned to mother-in-law I'm on the search for vintage tea sets and that I planned to drop into their local antique shop the next day. Before long, my mother-in-law disappeared.

I heard some rattling and shuffling going on in the back cupboard and I went to explore what she was doing. Her muffled voice echoed from inside the cupboard.  No one in the family seems interested in these, so you may as well have them. All my alarm bells switched on. Remember I don't want anything and I don't play those games. "Oh leave it" I say "Someone may change their mind" not really knowing what I'm saying no to.

The next minute all these beautiful old tea sets began to emerge. Nine of them in total. Some were ordinary, some were pretty, some were different and a couple of them were absolutely stunning.  Oh no. Why did she have to show me those, I say to myself. I knew the pattern. She would get me to ask which one I like best, then say "oh no, that one is for ......... or that one came from Aunty Joan so .........will score this one".  I held steadfast. I'm not saying a thing. Larissa came over and looked at me with big smiling eyes. "Oh mum, look at these - they're beautiful and they're exactly what you're looking for".  Hmmm. I know I think to myself. But I refuse to speak or to choose. I'm not doing it. I tell her thanks very much, but they're too precious so keep them in the cupboard. End of conversation.

Later that evening after dinner, we talk generally about all manner of things. In the back of my mind I'm thinking "farout those tea sets are gorgeous" and I really wanted to see them. I say nothing. Larissa whispers to me, 'Ma you should consider those tea cups - they're special'. I say nothing.  Mother-in-law disappears again. This time she comes out with all types of bubble wrap and tissue paper. This time I'm not asked a thing. She informs me that the three of us are going to sit on the floor and carefully wrap each piece and pack them into a box.

I do as I'm told. We start to talk about them and the characteristics of each one and before long they're all packed up. Mother-in-law looks at me and says, "I can't think of a better home for them than yours so please take them. And you'll be doing me a favour. One less thing to think about to give away. There - that's done". 

I was I think for the first time ever, truly touched. There was 'no competition' - they were all mine! But more importantly I was so humbled that she entrusted to me the cups that had belonged to her great aunt, her mother-in-law and most precious of all - her own mother. 

As long as I'm alive they will never see an op shop or be 'given away'. And I'm sure my girls will love having them after I'm gone. They love things with history and meaning. My only worry. I actually want to use them. There is one set in particular that is truly amazing and it may have to remain a showpiece. I guess if something breaks whilst being in my care, then c'est la vie. They're just too pretty to lock up and stay hidden in a cupboard for a lifetime.

Welcome to your new home you gorgeous lovely teacups. I hope we share some happy times. 
This glowing set comes from England, Made in Longton, genuine bone china.
 "Vale". I look forward to sipping tea from you.

This pretty dainty Royal Stafford is too gorgeous. But, you shall be used.

That's enough for today. I'll reveal the others in time.  Bye for now.



  1. Hi Mariana
    You are right, that Royal Stafford is gorgeous.

  2. Ahhh, but is it nicer than Lavender Lady? Hehe.

  3. Mariana you have reminded me of an old set of my grandmothers that I used to drink the milkiest tea imaginable as a child. Gosh I haven't thought of it for probably 25 years.... off to investigate.
    ps. Use them, don't lock them up.

    1. That's the idea Brydie - to use them. Did you find your grandmother's tea set?

    2. It's just one tiny one, and promises of being set aside for me have been made. I'm so happy about that so thank you for the prompt.
      (I commented on your bunting post but not sure if it disappeared... It looks lovely, perfect for your high tea.)

    3. Oh that's wonderful Brydie - sounds like it very meaningful to you!
      Hmmm, Glenda said she had problem commenting on the bunting post too. Oh well. Seems sorted now. Thanks for letting me know. xx