It’s actually not a teapot. It’s a coffee pot.

Mary Cassatt's painting of two ladies drinking...

Mary Cassatt’s painting of two ladies drinking tea in a room with red-blue striped wallpapers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s part of a silver tea service my mother gave me when she was downsizing from a house to an apartment.

She gave me her dining room cabinet and everything in it.

The silver tea service includes a pot for serving tea, one for coffee, silver sugar and creamer and a silver tray to hold them all.

At one time, when she won a trip to Mexico City, she found a perfectly beautiful, contemporary tea service that I thought she was going to get for me.

I guess she decided that it was too expensive a gift for a 12-year-old.

Perhaps she realized that one day hers would be mine.

Of course, if you’re lucky, there’s a big gap in time between being a young married, when you might host parties in which you could use a silver tea service, and the time you might inherit one.

And, I’ve been lucky.

When I was a young married, I went to parties where older Army wives brought out silver tea services that belonged to the Officer’s Candidate School (OCS), not their own, personal sets.

Young Army wives were expected to get together once a month to polish the OCS silver.

And, once or twice we went to OCS parties where it was used.

Had my husband stayed in the Army beyond the required two years and 10 months to satisfy an Officer draftee’s requirement, I likely would have hosted parties using a tea service for other Army wives.

We were invited to one such party when my husband reported for duty at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Commanders were expected to host a welcoming party for incoming officers on New Year’s Day.

Officers and their wives were expected to call on their new Commander and his wife.

Our car broke down with a flat tire.

Though my husband changed it in his dress blue uniform, it was too late for us to get to the party.

The next year, he was in Vietnam and the next year he was out.

The next time I was invited to a party with a silver tea service was a brunch for a cousin’s daughter’s wedding, held in the deeply Southern tradition in Columbia, South Carolina.

But, for the past five years, I have been co-hosting tea parties with my now seven-year-old granddaughter, when she visits in the summer.

The first two were held in the basement, just outside my office, on a tile floor, with all the stuffed bears in the house and imaginary food and plates.

Then, I decided, if we were going to host tea parties, we should use the real silver.

We should put together an abundance of food, especially the sweet treats which I normally limit during the week.

We should get out the beautiful etched glassware I also inherited from my mother and the tea cups from my great-aunt, a former missionary to Japan.

We should get out the platinum-rimmed plates I got as a wedding gift and the glass plates with cup holders my mother used to use at her bridge parties.

We should use the silver from the set my mother started for me when she won a place setting in a contest when I was 16 and she finished for a wedding present.

And, because I don’t serve coffee, we should use the bigger pot, the coffee pot, for tea.

This year, I decided we needed savory treats, not just sweet.

My granddaughter learned how to use a melon baller for the cantaloupe.

Then, she decided to apply her creativity to turn some of the melon balls into small beach umbrellas, anchored in cucumber slices.

She threaded cantaloupe, strawberries and raspberries on toothpicks and plated them so they looked like a face.

We brought out the 3-tiered plates, a gift from friends, that have become an anchor for the food table.

She picked white lace placemats for the coffee table where we ate in the living room, where we rarely sit otherwise, and a white tablecloth for the food table in the dining room.

“White and off-white don’t go together,” she assured me, as we looked through the linens.

I boiled water and added the green tea blossoms I had just brought back from China, pouring the strained tea into the coffee pot.

Dad and Grandpa proclaimed the fifth annual tea party a success.

We finished just in time to drive to the airport to send sweet granddaughter and her father home.

Do you have a silver teapot?

When was the last time you used it?

What are you waiting for?


Carol Covin, Granny-Guru

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers

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