December 10, 2009

I originally wrote this post in December 2006, but I thought it was worth repeating. For many people, Christmas can be a very lonely and sad time. Let us reach out to those who are in need: A hug, a word of encouragement, an invitation to dinner, some baked goods, or maybe even stopping by to enjoy a "cup of Christmas tea" with them, could possibly bring a much needed smile to their face and turn their sadness into joy!
A Cup of Christmas Tea

I have owned this Christmas tea cup for many, many years. It is a cherished gift that was given to me by Mr. P. Along with the tea cup and saucer came the most beautiful book that I still treasure to this day. It is a modern day poem that is timeless in it's message. I had heard the poem many years ago and it really spoke to my heart about the true spirit of the Christmas season. The tea cup holds a place of honor in my dining room during Christmas because it serves a very important reminder to me to remember those who aren't always remembered. I know this poem is very long but I hope you will take some time to read it. Maybe when you have a few minutes during the next few days you can bring your cup of tea along with you and you can read this most beautiful and touching poem. I hope you love it as much as I do!

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.
And 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 housebound 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 the 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 chinain 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 NativityI'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 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 phoney 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 realityof 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, 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 crutchcame 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.

By: Tom Hegg

Who in your life is waiting for you to come and share a cup of Christmas tea with them??


Elizabeth said...

Thank you SO very much for sharing this poem - I have chills on my arms reading it. What a beautiful reminder for this time of year.

And the cup and saucer is exquisite as well. :)

Debi said...

I have the Christmas Cup of Tea set and book...reading it is a tradition for our family....thanks for reminding me to get my tea set out : )

Anonymous said...

My Mom received this poem in a book and the cup and saucer many years ago and she loves it as well!


Arlene Grimm said...

One of my old favorites...I remember sharing it one Christmas with our Ladies Group at Church. A good reminder for us all at this time of the year..have a blessed weekend friend.

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I have the book with this poem in it. I LOVE it. Doesn't it make you stop and think?

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan ~

Thank you for sharing! I too, have the ~ teacup & saucer ~ set. It was given to me as a gift from my husband many years ago. I do not have the poem. I would love to find a copy of the book. ~*~So inspirational!~*~

Simple blessings to you and your family!
Hugs ~

Marie said...

My very best friend had cancer and died just before Christmas several years ago. She gave me a Christmas cup with a special note in it. I have that cup placed on the book A Cup of Christmas Tea on my table every Christmas. You can see it in the slide show on my blog. It is the second picture. Hope you will have a chance to drop by to see it.

Jackie said...

Thank you so very much for sharing this poem.

God bless.