Forget the coffee; take a cup, please

Sherri Gardner HowellBlount, Farragut, Kitchen Table Talk, West Knox

I have 93 coffee cups.

I don’t drink coffee. Granted, I drink a LOT of hot tea, so I do need coffee cups for myself, as well as for my coffee-loving husband and guests.

But the question still hangs there: 93? Why?

I have, on the extremely rare occasion, had as many as 50 people in my house for a party or event. Chances are on those rare nights, seven or eight of them did drink coffee. I cannot, however, foresee any time in whatever days I have left on this earth that I will need 93 cups to hold coffee, hot tea, hot chocolate, hot cider or even the bacon grease saved from breakfast.

I’m not even sure how it happened. A quick scan of my coffee cups tells a few stories. There are the rare cups, totaling six, that were inherited from my grandmother and mother. These delicate cups are from Japan and are egg-shell thin. They sit in a high cabinet and have never seen a hot liquid in my house.

There are the “sets” that came with the five sets of dishes I have: two everyday sets, two fine china sets and one Christmas set. Allowing from the ones that have been broken or disappeared into the hinterlands of my husband’s car, those total approximately 37 cups.

That’s 43 cups that have a logical reason for living in my house. It’s those other 50 that have some explaining to do.

Some of these cups were gifts, and I do have a fond attachment to a few of them. The one with a picture of my boys at a young age that they gave me one Christmas after a shopping trip with their father is priceless. They gave me another one, years later, with a picture of them plus Kinsey, taken at Trey and Kinsey’s wedding. Priceless.

I love my coffee cup from the crew at Blount Today that says, “I’m not bossy. I just have better ideas.” I love my Biscuit Bitch cup from downtown Seattle. I love my three Polar Express coffee cups from our train ride on the Mt. Rainier Railroad in Elbe, Washington.

My husband has 10 coffee cups from WUOT-radio, and he guards them for “coffee only” from my tea-drinking ways.

Add those 15 in, and we still have 35 cups with nothing much to say.

I know that many of these appeared after some random conference or event when coffee mugs were “the” giveaway of choice. Many sport business logos or themes from parties or event names. Others were grabbed in a shopping frenzy to get a souvenir when nothing seemed just right. Grab a $9 coffee cup with Van Gogh’s self-portrait from Amsterdam’s Rijks Museum because the silk scarves are $200.

There are also many that I just don’t have a clue where they came from or how they got to my house.

The question is, what do I do with 93 coffee cups? I don’t consider myself a hoarder, but it’s hard to throw away a poor coffee cup that has done nothing to deserve a terrible fate other than show up at my house.

I’ll donate them, of course. Maybe there is someone, somewhere, who is drinking their coffee or hot tea from a red Solo plastic cup who will be thrilled to find a coffee cup at a second-hand store for a quarter.

Going forward, I will adopt my daughter-in-law Olivia’s coffee cup rule: If a new cup comes into the kitchen, one has to leave.

Which is how I ended up with three Polar Express cups…

Sherri Gardner Howell has been writing about family life for newspapers and magazines since 1987. She lives in West Knoxville, is married to Neville Howell and has two sons and three grandsons.

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