Shortly after D was born, I put my wine glasses in storage. I wasn’t worried that an infant would break my fancy stemware, but did think that, as responsible parents, D’s dad and I should really move our liquor up from the bottom shelf. Given the choice between the booze and the glasses, the choice was clear. We could drink out of juice glasses and still have upper-shelf space for a baby-proofed bar.

I also tucked away my teacup collection. I have a few cups and saucers from each of my grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s tea sets. Before D was born, I’d use one the cups whenever I needed cheering up. My great grandmother’s multicolored pansy pattern saw me through much of my dissertation. But once D was born, I had less time for slow sipping and more need for caffeine.

The newest tea set in my collection was a surprise gift from my husband’s grandfather a few years ago. Such a surprise, in fact, that we let D help us open the box. Miraculously, the set survived its unwrapping. As soon as we got home I swaddled it away. But I unearthed it when preparing for a recent move. The set sat out for a few days while I was waiting for the perfect box.

Then it dawned on me that even though D probably couldn’t drink from the cups safely, we could still have a tea party.

Wax paper flowers. Pom pom tea. A delightful morning with D and his stuffed animals.

I’m not ready to store my collection on a toddler-high shelf, but I am building a space for them in our new home, where they’ll always be ready for a tea party…and a reminder that not everything needs to be saved for a special day. It’s the using things that makes them special.

Originally published at

Originally published at