When I was a girl at the magical age of six, new and fabulous worlds of exquisite detail could be created easily within my imagination. My grandmother’s functional kitchen could easily become an old-fashioned English parlor with a hanging crystal chandelier and ornately-carved, wooden furniture polished to a gleaming shine and upholstered with rich brocade fabrics where I would host many ‘tea parties’.
I dressed to the nines in a big straw hat, feather boa, and a pair of Grandma’s softest, daintiest gloves she pulled from a dresser drawer where she also kept her delicate, softly patterned handkerchiefs that smelled like sunshine and cedar. I slipped on a pair of ruby red high heels (stilettos that used to be Grandma’s) and wobbled to a grand entrance. The tips of the gloves pressed into the pads of my fingertips radiating a message of sophistication and elegance, of times gone by, making me feel like Jackie ‘O’, Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly.
I rarely bothered to put a stuffed animal or doll in the chairs around the table; nor did I worry about serving tea. My tea parties were about showing off. I sat primly in my chair and sipped tea from my cup like a proper lady. For me, these parties were a way to showcase what a stunning and beautiful ‘woman’ I was.
My daughter, on the other hand, at the tender age of three when everything is brand new and each day holds miraculous discoveries hosts ‘tea parties’ for her guests. She painstakingly arranges as many dolls and stuffed animals as she can around our dining room table. She carefully sets out a tea cup and cupcake for each guest. When she runs out, she gives her guests whatever food she has available, a potato, an onion, sometimes an eggplant. For her, the joy of having a tea party comes in serving.
Until this past Saturday afternoon when 1st Writes traveled to the Everett Tea Room for lunch, the only tea parties I’d ever attended were pretend. This was my first ‘real tea party’. As one would imagine, the real thing was quite different. No big hats, feather boas or gloves. It’s a safe bet I was not mistaken for Jackie ‘O’ at any point that afternoon. While The Everett Tea Room is located in the parlor of a lovely old house next door to the church parsonage, it was much lighter, airier and sweeter than the stuffy and dark parlor I imagined so many years ago. It was romantic, frilly, and completely feminine. My husband would have hated it! I loved it.
What truly separated this tea party from the parties I held in my Grandmother’s kitchen were the guests. Four real women I have experienced a true connection with. We’re fellow writers and friends in faith, kindred spirits as Pam, our facilitator has said on many occasions. Our conversation over four delectable pots of tea ranged from the stormy weather to God’s presence in the lives of those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
On the glass-topped table in front of us sat four uniquely beautiful teapots filled with different decadent concoctions: Apple Orchard, Crème Brule, Turtle and Chocolate Macadamia Nut, flavors as uniquely different as we ourselves. Joining the various teapots was a three-tiered serving tray showcasing cucumber sandwiches, scones and chocolate covered strawberries.
With thin, white-cloth napkins draped delicately on our laps, in between sips of tea from fragile china cups of mismatching patterns, passing the sugar and cream, munching on the most scrumptious scones, we discussed organizing a Christian Writer’s event for our area, where to send rejected manuscripts, blogging, and our latest works-in-progress. We shared the ways God has worked in our lives, decisions he has led us to and the mysterious ways in which he works.
His presence was all around us that afternoon. I could see him in the beautiful cross on the wall in front of me and the Bible behind me. I heard him in the quiet tinker of laughter from the other side of the room. I felt him in the fellowship of other writers passionate about their craft.
The Proverb, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17 NIV), proved true that afternoon. I returned home filled with renewed excitement and motivation to write using the most of my God-given talent.
As much as I enjoyed that afternoon with my friends and as much as I want to do it again, I’m really looking forward to the day when Monkey is a little older and I can take her for an official tea party. We’ll dress like we’re attending a royal wedding! We’ll pour tea, sip from rosy tea cups, nibble on tasty treats, and talk about whatever is on her mind. It’ll be a special mother/daughter outing to remember always and forever. I can’t wait to write about it!