The Tea Set

Maryann Nunnally, Contributing Writer




Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and I surely wish my mom was still with me.  I would get her the most beautiful card and loveliest gift that I could find.  But most of all I would put my arms around her to hug and kiss her until she would be sick of me.  To say that I miss her is an understatement and now that she is no longer her, not a day goes by that I don’t wish for her sensible and calm advice.

When my brother Wally and I were in elementary school, our teachers would always have us design and create our own Mother’s Day cards.  What I remember was the “roses are red, violets are blue,” sentiments followed by two or three sentences that extolled the individual characteristics of our mothers.  I always thanked her for reading to my brother and me every evening, a loving hint to continue that routine.   

One year when I was ten and Wally nine, we decided that we needed to buy something really special for mom.  Every year our father gave each of us a dime, and we walked up the railroad tracks to the country store where we purchased two nickel Hershey candy bars with almonds.  That left both of us with a nickel to spend on ourselves.  We knew mom liked Hershey bars, and we certainly liked the penny candy we could get with our change.  Every year we did the same thing, but this particular year, we wanted to do something bigger and better.

A maiden lady in our little rural town had opened a gift shop in her home, and we planned to go there to see what we could get with twenty cents.  After school the week before Mother’s Day, we walked together to the gift shop and discussed what we might find for the money that we had.  The minute we stepped through the door into Miss Halleck’s shop, we were dazzled by all the gifts.  There were beautiful half aprons trimmed with lace and rick-rack, lovely crocheted doilies, delicate China tea cups, but what brought us up short was a miniature tea set.  

There was a one-cup tea-pot, a sugar bowl and a creamer all trimmed in blue with tiny blue flowers painted all over them.  Mother loved a cup of tea, so there was no question that this would be the perfect gift.  One of us turned the tiny tea-pot over and saw the marked price, four dollars.

 Wally, forever the charming bargainer, asked Miss Halleck if she would accept our twenty cents.  Shaking her head, she said, “No, children.  But I will take twenty-five cents off and give it to you for three dollars and seventy-five cents.”

We left, proverbially sadder but wiser, as we tried to figure out where we could get three seventy-five.  We knew our dad would not give us that kind of money, and in the few days left before Mother’s Day, there was no chance that we could earn that much money.  Finally, we decided that there was only one solution, we would ask mom for the money.  

Once home, we did not hesitate and Wally, always mom’s favorite, asked her for the money.  “What do you want with that much money?” she questioned us.

“It’s a surprise, and we can’t tell you,” Wally answered.

Mom must have quickly figured out what was going on, and she went to her purse and handed us the three-seventy-five.  Immediately, Wally handed her his dime and elbowed me, so that I did the same.  Then we ran as quickly as we could back to the gift shop where Miss Halleck wrapped the tea-set up for us in pink paper and white ribbons.

When Mother’s Day rolled around, we took our gift out of hiding and mom beamed as she opened it up.  Exclaiming over her tiny tea-set, she said: “How ever did you know that this was just what I wanted?”  Thus, turning her gift into that special feeling that one gets when he or she gives the receiver just what she wants.   And ending once and for all the guilt we felt over mom buying her own present.  

While I type this story, I can see the tea-set on the shelf in my corner cabinet.  Just before my mother died, she told me to take whatever I wanted from her room full of her collections.  I took only the tea-set, and now looking at it as it brings back those funny memories, I am delighted that it is now mine.