Monday, July 7, 2008

Traditional Teacups

Saturday I opened my front door to find a big boxed delivered to my doorstep. Of course, I grabbed a pair of scissors, cut the corners, and opened the brown box. Inside I found a smaller box wrapped in ivy paper and held together with a bow. A card fell out as a pulled the small box up. The card read,

“Congratulations on your engagement! Love, Grammer”

I smiled, and thought, what in the world could my grandmother be sending me? I continued on, and unwrapped the box to find a small rose covered teacup inside.

(Pause here)

Now, I know to most a teacup isn’t all that exciting. Honestly, it isn’t all that exciting to me either. But there is more here. Leave it to my grandmother to carry on tradition. You see, teacups are what women gave other women when they got engaged. My mom has 8 or so teacups that she received when she got engaged. My grandmother has close to the same. There are a couple different reasons or myths about the teacup. Something about your teacup will crack if your husband is unfaithful, and something else about teacups were thought to be consolation for spinsterhood. Either way, there is a tradition behind the teacup, though I don’t think very many people give or receive teacups anymore.

That being said, normally I would open the package and think sarcastically, “ooohh a teacup, thanks grandma.” But truth be told, I love my teacup.

By now you know our wedding is untraditional. Our reception is basically a party. And perhaps something gets lost or the traditional value of marriage gets forgotten when you don’t have a big wedding to constantly remind everyone. In some ways, my girlfriends haven’t been the greatest during the last two months. No one knows what my dress look like. They haven’t called to ask where I am having it at; they haven’t called very much at all.

Perhaps it’s because they don’t have to pick out their own dress or shoes. Or maybe it’s because I live in Seattle and the majority of them live in other cities. I don’t know. But truth be told, I have been hurt by their lack of support and interest. I love my girlfriend unconditionally, but it has felt as though, by their lack of interest, they have belittled my marriage in some way, made it less important.

Hence, the reason why the teacup ment so much to me . . . the teacup was a visual and tangible reminder of what the tradition of marriage and value of marriage was all about. I desperately needed that reminder. And the fact that my grandmother gave it to me was even more fitting.

You see, my grandfather died in January and until then I didn’t want to get married. But I spent a week with my grandmother, just the two of use alone, right after he passed. And we had a conversation in the car about how, even after he was paralyzed (long story to go with this), and even after they couldn’t “do it” any more, he still sometimes would ask her to take her night gown off and lay next to him. Because he still loved the way she felt. It was this conversation that made me want to get married. Because I knew at that moment, I want to be 89, unable to do it, and still have TJ next to me.

My grandmother and my grandfather, in his death, showed me the value and importance of marriage. And it was my grandmother, of all people, who sent me a reminder of that when she mailed me my engagement teacup. And I really needed that reminder.

So, thanks Grammer.
(Though, she will never read this because she has no clue how to turn on a computer.)


Krissy said... i'm seriously crying! that is the sweetest thing I've ever read. from now on, i will give teacups. and when i get home, i'm going to hug my husband!

i can tell you, girl friends are so important, but you know what? i don't have any. i have lots of girl friends, but no real ones. sometimes a big life change can bring out who people really and make you take a step back to re-evaluate who your friends are. i hope they come around for you :)

Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

I am loving this story of your Grammer. So sweet. My mom and I have inherited my gram's tea cups...she got her original ones the same way yours did...I couldn't possibly part with them! Grammer's words of wisdom are amazing.

I am sorry your friends have thrown a bit of a curve ball at your happiness. I hate to sound all grandmotherly myself, but in this age of email, texting, blogging, etc., I think we've really lost touch with how to "be" someone's friend. It just sucks when you have something amazing going on (like your wedding) and everyone's nose is likely buried in their computers or overscheduled lives.

Anyway...enough rambling. I love your blog and am so glad to have recently found it.

Mrs.French said...

I love this tradition...I may have to start it.

Stephanie said...

Your grandmother sounds like a remarkable woman.

The difficult thing about getting married is finding that balance between going your own way and creating your own path and managing to connect to whatever traditions you need to to make something real. The lovely thing is that something as small as a teacup can do it.

Friends can be funny about weddings, whether it is a big to-do or not. The important thing is that if you have roots together that twine deep enough, you can usually find forgiveness.

(and I think they way you are celebrating your wedding is brilliant - a wedding is only a day, a party, a send off, after all. Marriage is the good stuff - the days together building your lives. I would send you a teacup if I could!)

Robin said...

What a beautiful post, and your grandmother sounds like a fabulous woman.

I work in the event biz and have witnessed many the bride (and bridesmaids, and mothers) having a meltdown over the stupidest wedding thing (flowers, napkins, etc) as if WORLD PEACE hinged on this one thing, and I wanted to slap them and remind them A Wedding Is NOT A Marriage. I think you are having the most sensible wedding ever, doing what you want and in the way you want and for the price you want, and it is a wonderful first step to a good marriage. I bet some of your girlfriends are at a loss because there is no role for them, so they don't know how to process this event in your life. And I agree with Stephanie, in this age of texting and emailing, we forget how to have interpersonal contact.

So congratulatons, and may your doorstep be flowing in teacups.

heidi said...

love this post!

High Desert Diva said...

Tears here.

Grandmas are the best

Hila said...

what a sweet story - I have a soft spot for tea-cups too :)

littlebyRD said...

What a beautiful post and tradition. I am sorry to hear that you've felt neglected by your closest friends. My husband and I chose to get married in Hawaii - just the two of us and honestly, beyond our parents and a few family members, we didn't even get a card! Oh well - I think there is something so special when it is as intimate as it is when it's so small - just you guys - I was married before - the big wedding and all - and it was pure performance. The second time was just about me and him.

nadia said...

This is beautiful, thank you for sharing this with us. I understand completely what you mean about the the tea cup, I also understand being alone to plan the wedding i did it all myself in a month....I too wanted to share some of it the experience with friends. it will be lovely, your day will be lovely and all that will dissapear..........i know this might be silly...but we love hearing about your plans, dress, flowers oh did you get peonies by the way?.....

what your grandmother shared with you about your grandfather is very special, I will remember it alwyas.

mary said...

I just love this post. I had tears at the end. I also agree with what Krissy said, about a life change causing some re-evaluation. That has happened to me.

If they don't come around, chalk it up to growing in different directions and move on to friends who will reflect your same interests and values. But I hope they do. :)

coco+kelley said...

dude. you just made me cry. and i am so moving home to seattle JUST to support you in your non traditional and still very important wedding.

ok, maybe that last part isn't true (because that would be a bit strange, after all), but i am sorry that your girls are not being YOUR girls when you need them the most :( that's always incredibly disappointing.

love the teacup tradition. love your story of love. and i need a dress update ;)

smile... you have your prince charming, and i'm sure your girlfriends will come around!

Anna P said...

How wonderful! I collect antique yes cups! Two were given to me by my Oma who has always collected them, around the time of my engagement but I never made the connection! Also I am super excited for you, want to see your dress, would love to do your hair and makeup, and generally talk wedding stuff anytime you want!!!

bettyninja said...

wow- really that stirred my heart all around in a good way. How powerful and so full of stories is that one little tea cup

dottie said...

what a beautiful post. good luck with everything! cheers to a wonderful marriage.

*L said...

stumbled accorss your blog, and you've given goosbumps and tears at work. loved this post. thanks for sharing! wish you an your husband a beautiful life together!

kendy said...

This story just reminds me of the timeless tradition that my family has passed on. My best friend is getting married and I feel kind of stilly giving her a teacup, but it meant so much to me, that I wanted to share this special tradition with someone I love.
I hope you marriage has been a year of bliss and thank you for posting this, it gives me the courage to give a "silly" gift.

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katieb said...

I know you started this awhile ago, however it is absolutely critical. My mom, who passed away 13 years ago and was 42 when I was born, the last of 7 of which the last 5 were all girls was very traditional. She always gave a cup and hoped her daughters would receive cups. I know the tradition, however I never understood the reasons. My closest niece out of 25 nieces and nephews, is recently engaged. I have a claddagh cup that I have been holding on to for awhile to give her. However I wanted to tell her what the tradition was so that she could understand it. You have posted such a wonderful and clear explanation for a tradition to continue. Her fiance is 24 and just recently diagnosed with cancer. Things look wonderful, but your grandparents scenario may play a huge part someday. I have been married for 27 years and fully understand your grandparents thoughts as my husband is recently handicapped. It really is all about love and how true that can be. When it is that way, there really is nothing better or more important in life. Tradition only reminds us of how the basic things can put so much meaning into every day living. In these squirrelly times, we all have to adjust back to the basics love, life and compassion for others. We wouldn't have any of it without God's hand,but it is our choice to make the best of it. Thank you for sharing your story.

bee said...

Oh God... this post still has people crying 18 months later! Stumbled across this post and I relate to so much of what you have said... Your lovely Grammer! What a lovely tradition.