Monday, December 7, 2009

A Cup of Christmas Tea

Welcome, friends, to my tea cottage!  Its Tea Things Tuesday over at Kim’s blog, www.shabbypinkandpretty.blogspot.com, where you will find all things tea. I’m going there  in just a minute, so please join me as I visit Kim and the other tea lovers for a look at their latest additions.

My dear blogging friends, this poem is long, however, if you’ve never read this before, you will not regret taking the time…it is wonderful!  I received a little ornament book when a friend and I gave our car club ladies a tea about 12 or 13 years ago.  We read it that day, and I’ve read it at every Christmas tea I’ve had since then…and I still cry.  I know you will enjoy it and it will touch your heart.  I have a few pictures at the end.  Now let me pour you a cup of tea…English Breakfast, or perhaps Cinnamon Spice…and let’s get comfortable while we read this precious poem together.

A Cup of Christmas Tea

by Tom Hegg

The log was in the fireplace, 
all spiced and set to burn. 
At last the yearly Christmas race 
was in the clubhouse turn. 
The cards were in the mail, 
all the gifts beneath the tree. 
And 30 days reprieve till VISA 
could catch up with me.

Though smug satisfaction 
seemed the order of the day,
Something still was nagging me 
and would not go away.

A week before, I got a letter 
from my old great Aunt. 
It read: Of course I'll understand 
completely if you can't, 
But if you find you have some time 
how wonderful if we 
Could have a little chat and share 
a cup of Christmas tea. 
She'd had a mild stroke that year 
which crippled her left side. 
Though house bound now, 
my folks had said 
it hadn't hurt her pride.
They said: She'd love to see you. 
What a nice thing it would be 
For you to go and maybe have 
a cup of Christmas tea.
But boy! I didn't want to go. 
Oh, what a bitter pill, 
To see an old relation and 
how far she'd gone downhill. 
I remembered her as vigorous, 
as funny and as bright. 
I remembered Christmas Eves when 
she regaled us half the night.

I didn't want to risk all that. 
I didn't want the pain. 
I didn't need to be depressed. 
I didn't need the strain.

And what about my brother? 
Why not him? She's his aunt, too! 
I thought I had it justified, 
but then before I knew, 
The reasons not to go I so 
painstakingly had built 
Were cracking wide and crumbling 
in an acid rain of guilt.

I put on boots and gloves and cap, 
shame stinging every pore. 
And armed with squeegee, 
sand and map, 
I went out my front door. 
I drove in from the suburbs 
to the older part of town. 
The pastels of the newer homes 
gave way to gray and brown.

I had that disembodied feeling 
as the car pulled up and stopped 
Beside the wooden house 
that held the Christmas cup.
How I got up to her door 
I really couldn't tell... 
I watched my hand rise up and press 
the button of the bell.

I waited, aided by my nervous 
rocking to and fro. 
And just as I was thinking 
I should turn around and go, 
I heard the rattle of the china 
in the hutch against the wall. 
The triple beat of two feet 
and a crutch came down the hall.

The clicking of the door latch 
and the sliding of the bolt, 
And a little swollen struggle 
popped it open with a jolt. 
She stood there pale and tiny, 
looking fragile as an egg. 
I forced myself from staring 
at the brace that held her leg.

And though her thick bifocals 
seemed to crack and spread her eyes,
Their milky and refracted depths 
lit up with young surprise. 
Come in! Come in! 
She laughed the words. 
She took me by the hand. 
And all my fears dissolved away 
as if by her command.

We went inside and then before 
I knew how to react 
Before my eyes and ears and nose 
was Christmas past, alive, intact!

The scent of candied oranges, 
of cinnamon and pine, 
The antique wooden soldiers 
in their military line, 
The porcelain Nativity 
I'd always loved so much, 
The Dresden and the crystal 
I'd been told I mustn't touch.

My spirit fairly bolted 
like a child out of class 
And danced among the ornaments 
of calico and glass. 
Like magic I was six again, 
deep in a Christmas spell. 
Steeped in the million memories 
That the boy inside knew well.

And here among old Christmas cards 
so lovingly displayed, 
A special place of honor 
for the ones we kids had made. 
And there, beside her rocking chair, 
the center of it all, 
My great Aunt stood and said how nice 
it was I'd come to call.

I sat and rattled on about 
the weather and the flu. 
She listened very patiently 
then smiled and said, "What's new?"
Thoughts and words began to flow. 
I started making sense. 
I lost the phony breeziness 
I use when I get tense.

She was still passionately interested 
in everything I did. 
She was positive. Encouraging. 
Like when I was a kid. 
Simple generalities 
still sent her into fits. 
She demanded the specifics. 
The particulars. The bits.

We talked about the limitations 
that she'd had to face. 
She spoke with utter candor 
and with humor and good grace. 
Then defying the reality 
of crutch and straightened knee, 
On wings of hospitality 
she flew to brew the tea.

I sat alone with feelings that 
I hadn't felt in years. 
I looked around at Christmas 
through a thick hot blur of tears. 
And the candles and the holly 
she'd arranged on every shelf, 
The impossibly good cookies 
she still somehow baked herself.

But these rich and tactile memories 
became quite pale and thin, 
When measured by the Christmas 
my great Aunt kept deep within.
Her body halved and nearly spent, 
but my great Aunt was whole. 
I saw a Christmas miracle, 
the triumph of a soul.

The triple beat of two feet and a 
crutch came down the hall, 
The rattle of the china 
in the hutch against the wall. 
She poured two cups. She smiled and then she handed one to me. 
And then we settled back and had 
a cup of Christmas tea.

You loved it, didn’t  you?  There is a sequel as well…if you are or know a tea lover, or really anyone at all, this would be a marvelous Christmas gift.  It is something they will read for years to come, and it will warm them just as much as a cup of hot tea.

A  miniature “A Cup of Christmas Tea” set that I purchased when I went to tea about 12 years ago.

mini cup of christmas tea 

A Hallmark Madam Alexander “A Cup of Christmas Tea” ornament that I found 2 of 3 years ago.  You can still find them on ebay.

girl ornament

“A Cup of Christmas Tea” ornament…


and the little book that was given me years ago.



This is the full size teacup.  I do not have  one, but I’m hoping to win it on ebay this year.  I find them, watch them, then forget to bid on them!  And here is the teacup.  I do hope you’ve enjoyed reading the poem while sipping on a cup of tea with me. 

a cup of chirstmas tea teacup



Do come back again on Wednesday for more pictures of Christmas decorations around my home…they will be in red and white.  Remember to pray for our military and their families, for our nation, for the lonely and for the ill.  Remembering to give to others with our time, our compassion, and our smiles is so important, every day, of course, but especially now, when people are so needy of someone to care about what is going on in their lives.  We can get so busy with our own lives, seeing others can escape our gaze…let’s keep our spiritual eyes open so we can “see” what is going on around us.


God bless you all!

p.s.  I do not know why my photos are cutting off to the right…any ideas? Also, I’ve lost the ability to change my font color…suggestions on that???



  1. I love the poem Mary. And I have the Christmas Tea book that I received as a gift from a tea loving friend one year. My friend Terri invites me to Christmas tea every year at the Phoenician resort here in Phoenix. It's something I look forward to each year. We've been going now for about 12 years and her mom used to accompany us until her death. Her last year with us she was in a wheelchair and yet she was so excited to spend that time with us having Christmas tea.

    It's wonderful to get out of our comfort zone and reach out to someone like the aunt in the poem. How many lonely people there are in the world who would love a guest for tea.

    Love you,

  2. Hi Mary,

    I just love that poem. I collect poems and put them in a book. I am going to to that with this one that you shared. Love the ornaments too.


  3. It is a heart touching poetry and a wonderful christmas cups ready to be sipped hot tea in it.

  4. Mary,

    Thanks for sharing the beautiful and touching poem. It's a good reminder....

  5. Good morning Mary,
    What a beautiful poem! It has some wonderful lessons in it. Thanks for sharing. I love your miniature tea set. Looks like we're on the same page today as I've shared mine too. Hope you have a beautiful day and wouldn't it be nice to sit and share a cup of tea together?


  6. Mary....What a wonderful poem and so thought provoking! It made me think of elderly friends or relatives or even myself when I would reach that age. Will younger relatives still come to visit me?? You always share things that make us think. I love the "cup of tea" teacup and your little set! Very lovely! Can't wait to see your upcoming Christmas photos!~Hugs,Patti

  7. Lovely poem, Mary, and I enjoyed seeing all the pretty tea things as well. Thanks for sharing...


    Sheila :-)

  8. Oh now Mary I just have to find these 2 books for myself and my niece,who is my galpal tea lover too!
    Your tea display and home as always is so very warm, and lovely!
    Thanks for sharing with us today!

  9. Hello Mary, no spick inglés, but... i cant see your blog is very nice, and you a woman very special, bye bye, Chany.-

  10. Hi Mary, I have that book and I love, love that poem. It makes me cry. Your post is so lovely....thank you!!!!!

    Hugs, Barb ♥

  11. Hi Mary, I too have the book. I absolutely love the poem. I'm not sure I have the teacup and saucer. That would be a treasure to have as well. I "think" I might have the ornament. Waiting for a small package to arrive before finishing the tree in the kitchen, then I'll know for sure. Thank you for swinging by and saying hello. Pop in any 'ole time..
    hugs ~lynne~

  12. Thanks for sharing the beautiful poem....it was very nice. Love your tea cups and ornaments.

    .......have a great week!

  13. Dear Mary, thank you so much for this touching poem. It's the first time I've seen it and it did my eyes tear up and a little lump in my throat :o)
    It's can be annoying when we forget to bid, lol. This morning I was bidding frantically on a complete Duchess 'Tranquility' tea set. It went for £4. It just wasn't meant to be :o(
    God bless you.

  14. Hi Mary

    I too have that book and I LOVE it. The poem is sooo good. I love your mini tea set. How darling is that...I love the little ornament too. Soo precious. How I would love to have a cup of Christmas tea with you! I will be writing you later so be watching...Have a wonderful day.

    Hugs and love to you,


  15. Beautiful poem, and beautiful tea things. Thanks so much for sharing all of them.


  16. Hi Mary,
    What a lovely poem. You little tea ornaments are lovely too! Happy Tuesday.

  17. Good morning Mary!
    I'm in love with that Madame Alexander ornament...how sweet is that.
    What a touching poem Mary...
    Happy Tea Things to you.

  18. I love this story and have the ornie and book also. It is a precious story that I read every year....Thanks for sharing.


    I'm weak in the knees. Every year this poem is new to me AGAIN.

    God is so faithful. Gives us exactly what we need just when we need it.


  20. What a wonderful post you've done today Mary. That tea poem could not have been more perfect. You always put so much thought into your posts and I find so much inspiration from them. Your Christmas teacups and tea ornaments are perfect as well. Isn't it wonderful that us tea lovers can work tea things into our holiday decor? Someday, I would love to decorate an entire Christmas tree (white of course) with all sorts of pretty tea related things.

  21. Hi, Mary!
    Lovely post!
    My very good friend Barbara gave me that book one Christmas and it is something I treasure. Such beautiful sentiments.
    And I love all your Christmas Tea treasures and I hope you win the teacup!

    Thanks so much for the wonderful reminder. And thanks for always thinking of others and remembering to keep them in prayer.
    Also, so many thanks for all your comments of encouragement. I've been feeling lately that I am floundering and I have no reason to feel that way really, and you are always such a comfort.
    Love and Prayers,

  22. Oh Mary; I just loved that Poem... just so beautiful... thank you for sharing it.. I love your tiny tea set so cute... hope you get you Christmas Tea Cup....


  23. Hi Mary, what a lovely poem. I hadn't heard the story before and was afraid it was going to turn out badly, I'm so glad it didn't!

    With another storm coming and the possibility of fog, snow, ice etc. we're not sure about going to the Antiques faire in Sac. on Sunday. We'll probably decide Saturday when we have a beter idea. You should go by Happy to Be and see how snowed in Gloria is! It is beautiful though.

  24. Hello dear Mary,

    Oh, I just loved this poem, and the little tea set is adorable. I must look for one, and the little book too. thank you for taking the time to post this for us.

    Debbie from NJ

  25. Hi, Tis a small world, since I bought myself a copy of the book A Cup of Christmas Tea, with this poem as its text, and I adore reading it.
    I like it so much that in the book that I wrote, which is about celebrating Christmas, I chose that book by Tom Hegg as the family book I recommend for the holidays.

  26. Thanks for your comment and question on my blog. We did not get any of your snow, but friends who live at 1,000 feet elevation definitely did.

  27. I once bought an actual tin of tea that was A Cup of Christmas Tea. The tin was decorated like the book. I have never been able to find the tea since, or what the tea was. Does anyone have any info. It was a delicious tea, and I would love to find it again.

  28. J. Long I also had the tea called a cup of Christmas Tea. The first year I bought it was at Mallards and it came in a green box with the white dots. The next 2 years I got it at another store and it came in a round tin decorated the same and then a square tin. I bought them at a store in Clevelands Terminal Tower. I have not been able to find it since then. It was the most delicious tea I have ever had. It was similar to Bigelows Constant Comment but with more spices. If anyone knows where you can buy it please post.