Family Fortunes: All I want for Christmas is a cup of tea with my mother

We would talk about everything and nothing

It is a truth universally acknowledged that tea tastes better if allowed to brew in a preheated teapot. Drinking the perfect cup of tea is a unique experience.

I found an old photo of my mother drinking a cup of tea in her kitchen in Dublin in the 1960s. The moment was captured by my father through a hatch from the sitting room, where he had just finished hanging his wooden handmade chandelier. It was a time when everyone was into DIY, and if there was a piece of wood lying around, my father was sure to carve something out of it: shelves for the kitchen, a table for his boat or a skateboard for my brother.

Time is so precious to us now that we no longer have time to make real tea, let alone wooden skateboards. My brother would testify that the skateboard was not a complete success because it had no kicktail or braking mechanism, but it did make us laugh.

When my parents married, it was tradition to give bone china tea sets as wedding presents. The joy of drinking that first cup of tea from a delicate bone china cup has never left me. It was an occasion to dress up for and savour. You can’t rush it; the last thing you want to do is break a cup or its matching saucer. I did, however, chip a sugar bowl from that set, but it has remained hidden out of sight at the back of the display cabinet for decades. Enough said.


Over the years my mother and I drank endless cups of tea from pots that never seemed to empty. We would talk about everything and nothing.

This Christmas all I want is another chance to drink tea with my mother and tell her everything. Although this wish can never come true, I will take time to make the perfect cup of tea on Christmas Day in memory of all those chats.

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