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Warmth to Chase Away Cold

December 23, 2012

First, there was hot chocolate. Not too hot for little kiddy lips and with marshmallows on top, of course. Mini or the regular big size, I can’t quite recall. Were the mini mallows ‘invented yet’ back then? I just don’t remember. Kids around a campfire on a cool summer’s night, more especially after tobogganing in the chilly wintertime, out in the country or in the city, with church or school friends, or simply with family. The magical potion of cocoa, sugar and milk, plus the heat. You can’t forget some heat. In some kind of a cup or mug. Sometimes waxened paper, until Styrofoam scientifically appeared. I never much liked that new-fangled strangely squeaky ‘like nails on a chalkboard’ rubbery stuff. No, I preferred a good solid mug. A handsome one, if possible. Decorative. Whimsical. Possibly some text. Appropriate seasonal sentiments or something special, preferably. Yes, favorite hot cocoa mugs have come and gone in my life. No time for going down my mug memory lane now, though.

My first recollection of the aroma of coffee was walking past the staff room of the teachers’ lounge in an early grade. I loved the smell like drinking in the scent of exotic flowers. I didn’t grow up with coffee. My parents never drank it. Sometimes my mother kept it to serve her coffee-drinking family or friends, but it was a small jar of instant that lasted in the cupboard the whiles in-between. Sadly, it might have been served up stale to guests at some point. We were a no-caffeine house. We grew up with Postum on occasion. It was my parents’ drink back then. From time to time I crave Postum again, but in many years of late, I discovered Kaffree Roma which almost entirely displaced that other intermittent craving for me. Still, a strong hot cocoa is my preferred in the non-coffee realms. Dark chocolate melted in high cream content milk. Oh my gracious.

Tea parties. Beyond the dolls and teddy bears, and far better than only imaginaries being served up. The first real teatime I recall was at my paternal grandmother’s sister’s home in Southern Alberta, Canada. It was just us girls, from very young to the older ladies. It was a femininely decked out pretty little Victorian house, as far as I can recall. But what I remember most were the impressively tiered best china plates filled with finger sandwiches and petits fours. Little layers of breads, biscuits, cookies and bars. Gilded floral tea cups and their companion saucers. Oh, the tea cups. Fine bone china. Delicately light. Everything fancy and perfectly coordinated. And napkins. Don’t forget the fancy napkins. High tea at my grand aunt’s. Very English, to be sure.

Tasty drinks in pretty cups. Even water seems grand in such vessel delights. To this day, when I put almost anything in one of my fine china or porcelain cups, it seems regal, royal and very vintage special. Mugs? These days I rarely turn to even my remaining favorite best mugs. It’s all tea cups for me now. The best ones. Sometimes gilded, in real gold. Yes. Even my hot chocolates get served up in my gloriously fabulous teacups. A treasured teacup turns water into wine of a kind.

My first experience with herbal tea was helping my mom cut some mint from under the apple tree, and then afterwards always cutting it for her, and then helping to steep it and of course then to add sugar and milk. Me oh my oh, but that was a delicious old fashioned cup of yumminess. Memories. Oftentimes my mom boiled the tea in milk. Minty milk. Some kind of wonderful. I can never forget milky mint tea. And, with Celestial Seasonings and a few other trusted herbal tea sources, I have learned to love many more flavors beyond mint. Still, mint tea is an old standby that has stood the test of time for me. And a little or a lot of chocolate added in, takes mint tea, slightly weak or steeped strong, up a cocoa notch. Mmm… milky mint chocolate tea.

I love that fluffy or crunchy white stuff called snow, and I don’t mind a little crispy cold, having grown up in the great white north, north, north west. But, even I, a snowchild of old and snowwoman for decades, a skier, a snowshoer, a snowman and snow fort builder extraordinaire, a girl who long-since learned to dress in five layers with only my eyes hiding in the wings to protect against 40 or 50 degree below outings in blizzards, has come to love coming in from the cold, curling up by the fire, and sipping on a tasty toasty drink in a pretty delicate cup. And don’t forget the best cookies on the side fine china dessert plate. Yes that is one fine comfort favorite of this cold wintery season. Christmassy cheers, with comfortably hot herbal tea and hot chocolate, in gilded cups with saucers!

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