Ugly Ceramic Coffee Cup

Once I quit working outside the home, I didn’t have the luxury of my daily stop at the bagel shop to get my carbs and coffee.

Packing up a baby in an infant carrier and driving elsewhere to purchase a cup of joe in a paper cup was a terribly inconvenient activity for a new mom. I committed myself to brewing my own coffee, and along the way, I discovered the joy of a ceramic mug.

A paper cup is stiff. A ceramic mug is strong, yet shaped to fit the curves of palm and fingers. I love those silent moments at home–watching the rain fall outside my window or getting ready to read a book–when I have a mug filled with coffee between my hands. It is like time with a good friend.

Over the years of parenthood, I have collected mugs as gifts or impulse buys in stores. I open my cupboard in the morning, delighted with the choices I have, an orange mug from my college roommate that says, “Friends are God’s way of taking care of us,” a green and white photo mug from my daughter, a red mug with a mosaic imprint I bought for myself. And there’s this cream colored mug, the one with yellow and brown flowers that reminds me of disco music and bell bottoms and riding a banana bike.


The mug was Michael’s. Many of Michael’s dishes were mismatched items from garage sales. I owned eight table settings of Corelle plates with matching coffee cups and baking dishes.

As newlyweds, in the merger of our kitchens, we each let our silverware go and replaced it with the set we received from our wedding registry. We let saucepans go, since we didn’t need more than three. And then we had the conversation about the coffee mug, the ugly one leftover from the 1970s.

I was not fond of that mug. I liked our new ones from Pier I (also wedding gifts). When I asked if we could get rid of the mug, Michael made a little fuss, why do we have to get rid of all my stuff and not anything of yours? That wasn’t completely true. We kept his awesome, green soup pot, a garage sale item that had never been used.

bwncupcloseupOnce Michael agreed, I put it in a box and drove it to the thrift store. But in the parking lot, when I opened the truck door to take out the box, I spotted that mug and reconsidered. The artwork reminded me of days at my cousins’ home in the summer. My aunt Nancy often walked her home with a coffee mug like that in one hand. She also used colors like those to decorate her home. I heard a little whisper that said, keep me.

The flowers–the yellow one the happiest of them all–looked hand painted, their ugly colors suddenly became endearing to me. I changed my mind. I set the mug on the passenger seat and brought it back home. And now, I am of course, most pleased with that decision.





Inspired by the letter C (as in cup and coffee) in the A to Z Challenge for the month of April. Scroll past the social media buttons to share a coffee story or to comment on this post.


6 thoughts on “Ugly Ceramic Coffee Cup

  1. I love all the mismatched and “swag” mugs that populate my cupboard. Only my closest friends get to choose from “cures foot fungus” or the local orthodontist’s logo mugs.


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