In my hands rests a French Limoges porcelain coffee cup and matching saucer, both delicately graced with wispy, pink flowers – Asters I believe - and fading gold trim. I imagine my Great Grandmother sipping tea from this very cup, maybe with her mother or with the neighborhood ladies. This was her fine china reserved for special occasions.
My research tells me that her china was likely made in the early twentieth century, nearly 100 years ago, in the Limoges area of France. It would have been shipped over to Canada, where my Great Grandmother lived, for the purpose of providing new brides like her with their chosen gifts of finery upon marriage.
It surprises me that this impractical tradition has hung on, with most twenty-first century brides still registering for two sets of china – the fancy and the everyday versions. Many of those fine china sets will never come out of their suburban cupboards; all longing to be used just like the tea set from Beauty and the Beast. Mrs. Potts the teapot remembers the good ole' days of hot, steamy goodness filling her belly. Even little “Chip” the teacup felt hopeful that he'd once again be tipped to someone's soft lips. That, to me, is the pure and true joy of being able to serve one’s purpose in life. Not one of my Great Grandmother’s china cups appears to have been fortunate in that regard. Clearly used, but not nearly enough.
That is why I’m now choosing to use this beautiful, well-preserved ancestral china for my own everyday use. What good is it boxed away? It needs to breathe the steam of jasmine and rosehips. My hands want to tenderly embrace the smooth, warm glaze while slowly sipping my tea.