The mug…the other day, I finally, for the first time ever, used the mug. It was a present from my cousin Denny. We all received one from him along with other gifts from his sojourn to Hong Kong when he was serving in the Navy. It was during the Viet Nam War although his ship, a destroyer, apparently never went near the country, but I digress.
By we, I mean, my parents, my sisters, and I. Every mug was different, and yet the same. Each had our name on one side of the mug, and the other side sported a cartoon character of the times. I seem to recall that Dad had “Pa” and Mom had “Ma” from the Katzenjammer Kids comic strip. My sisters and I had various characters from the Peanuts comic strip. I think my sisters had “Sally” and “Violet.” Mine was hapless “Charlie Brown,” out in the baseball field waiting to catch the ball, or at least, a reasonable facsimile of him.
For years, they were stored in the cupboard at my parents’ home and never used. They were too good to use; they were a precious gift; what if they were broken or chipped; none of the kids drank coffee or tea; there were lots of reasons, but the result was that none of us ever used them.
After some time, I moved away from home, never thinking to take the mug. Besides, it was in perfect condition, and all the reasons for not using it then still seemed valid. Yet, after my parents died, and my sisters and I were cleaning out our home and we all took our mugs to our individual homes. What happened to my parents’ mugs, I can’t say although I suspect they were never used, just like the Japanese coffee set Denny gave my Mom at the same time. That pristine coffee set was given back to him as a gift after their deaths, but I digress.
Several months ago, a dear writing friend talked about having dishes she rarely, if ever used, crystal that stayed in the cupboard except for special occasions, and she went on to say that she was going to starting using her finest dishes and crystal on a daily basis. I have to say that is when I started using my crystal wine glasses every day because she was right. Having those dishes and glasses sitting around gathering dust was not honoring the gift giver, nor was it the reason they were lovingly given, and frankly I love drinking my Riesling in a wine goblet now. It makes those happy hours spent with my husband a little more special.
Back to the mug, the virgin, unused mug, the mug given oh-so-long-ago…my husband made me tea in it the other day. He just grabbed the mug from the back of the cupboard, and I was exhilarated when I realized that this was the first time, that the reasons were silly, that life didn’t end. After more than fifty years, I think it was time. Since then, I have used it again just as it was intended all along.
Now, if at some time it breaks or chips, then it won’t be because it just fell off the shelf (and that has happened to me more than once), but lived the life it was supposed to have lived.
How many of us do the same thing? Keep everything in perfect condition, only to realize later how ridiculous it may be. My sons probably won’t want my crystal, nor will my nieces. I wonder if my parents ever used those mugs; I wonder if my sisters have. As for me, I intend to continue. Life’s too short.
Charlie Brown mug
christened with tea