Mug Shots

According to novelist Joanne Harris’ protaganist in her latest book Gentleman and Players , “you can tell a lot about a teacher’s personality from his coffee mug.” Well, if that’s true, I must be schizophrenic, because all these mugs are mine. Yep, there’s mugs here that date back to the first year I set up housekeeping (1976 in case you’re keeping track), and as new as the one I bought at the Smithsonian Institute two weeks ago when I was in DC with the school choir. Why so many?

I’m willing to bet that if I looked inside most of your cupboards, you’d have your own motley collection of mugs. We get them as gifts from our friends, our co-workers, our kids, and especially from our students (for those of us who are teachers). I’ve done quite a bit of mug weeding over the years, and I still have this many left. Do I use them all? Actually, I do. As I stumble into the kitchen each morning, blindly reaching toward my lovely Cuisinart programmable coffee grinder/maker that has my morning brew nicely prepared and steaming hot for me, I’m already in the process of deciding which mug it’s going to be. The white bone china with pink roses that I bought not long after my wedding because it “matched” my pink kitchen? The tall slim ironstone one, covered in Monet’s famous Water Lily? The plain white Corelle mug that I picked up in the dollar store in Orlando to keep at my son’s apartment so I’d have a mug to drink from when I visited him? Decisions, decisions…

Coffee mugs, like T-shirts, and key chains, and calendars, are one of the little ways we use things to express our personalities and our feelings on a particular day. When I want to feel elegant, I use the bone china mug. When I feel like I need a “really big cup”, I’ll grab the one festooned with hearts and music staves that Jim gave me for Valentine’s day a few years ago. When I’m missing my boy, I’ll pick up that Corelle, or the one he gave me once for Mother’s Day that says “A good mother is like a quilt; she keeps her children warm, but doesn’t smother them.”

So I guess my mug collection doesn’t necessarily mean I’m schizophrenic. There are many facets to my personality, and many ways I like to express them. Coffee mugs are just one tiny one. So, what does your mug say about you today?

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