Tea and Memories
No matter how hard I try, our kitchen table is a jumble – everyday. I clean it all off one day, sorting out the daily deluge of mail, recycling every catalog we will never ever order from, putting the bills in the different “pay me please” baskets, and stacking up the various magazines to read when I get a chance to sit down. The various stacks begin to tower and then a cat knocks them all over and we start again. I scream or sigh, depending on my mood and tidy it all up only to happen again. If you’ve looked at the photos on my website from the article in Country Home, by now you have guessed – it’s all an illusion. And I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’ve got better things to do than clean and straighten and neaten every day.
Here’s what our kitchen table looks like today. I picked up the mugs at Streeter’s yesterday on their second to last day in business after over 80 years. I got enough for a few sentimental holiday gifts. I’ve been thinking about the upcoming holidays and beginning to panic slightly. My mom, sisters and all their families and my friend Alice are coming for Thanksgiving next week "in the country." I can already feel the days evaporating between Turkey and Christmas – it’s an unpleasant feeling – always feeling inadequate, unorganized, rushed and inferior. I mustn’t let those perfectly styled magazines get to me – they’re all make believe. You neither – right?
The tea we drink here is something called “Yorkshire Gold.” The Farmer and I first found it on our very first visit to Great Britain back in 1984. Of course we were attracted to it by the picture of the sheep, sheepdog and shepherd on the box (see the top photo). When we got our first box home, we discovered we loved the taste too. I used to buy fifteen boxes at a time when I was in England and carry them home on the plane. One time, I even had a supplier buy me a bunch and ship it in a container with yarn when I worked at Classic Elite. Luckily with the development of the internet, I now buy “Yorkshire Gold” from Mrs. Bridge’s Pantry in CT. They also sell a lot of other British teas, biscuits, and holiday favorites including Christmas "crackers". If you are an Anglophile, check it out. They sell yarn and the illusive Lyle’s Golden Syrup which is an ingredient in many of Jane’s recipes. I’ve never been to Mrs. Bridge’s but would like to go one day. The women who answer the phone are a delight. (Note: Unfortunately, the loose tea now comes in a plastic shrink-wrap bag - there's still the sheep on the label though. Thank goodness I saved all those cardboard tea "tins" just in case they decided to do away with the quaint packaging.)
Which leads me to the annual rush to make handmade Christmas presents. For years, I made gifts for my sisters, Mark, Mom and Dad. For the past few years, I just haven’t been able to muster up the time and energy to do it. I remember all the fun, late nights, and pressure it was making them. One year there was wool sweaters for everyone (made on a bulky knitting machine). For a few years it was my handmade pottery. Perhaps Julia and I can make something sparkly and small for everyone this year. We love a glittery mess. And as Mom always says "It's the thought that counts." My sister Laurie is a big tea drinker and if I had the time, I’d make her one of these totally useful, knitted, felted tea cozies. You can find the pattern here on the Knitty website. Knit it, felt it and pack it up with a box of Yorkshire Gold or your favorite brew for a “cozy” holiday gift - if you can find the time.