by Phyllis Bohonis
Everything had to be just so. My best bone china was carefully removed from the cabinet in which it was displayed. My Irish linen table cloth was unwrapped from the blue tissue which kept it from yellowing. My silver teaspoons were polished to a brilliant sheen that would have passed inspection at Buckingham Palace. From a crystal vase in the centre of the table, a single long-stemmed rose raised its beautiful head in homage to the ray of sunlight dancing in reflected sparkles.
I checked the time again and creatively arranged the dainties on a rose-edged cake plate that had belonged to my mother. The kettle of water all ready boiled was placed on the stove, only needing to be reheated. My guest should be arriving any moment now. I had set the table for two and placed fancy napkins embroidered with dainty tea roses beside our dessert plates. The delicate cups and saucers, again patterned with roses, were placed to the right of our plates. A rectangular platter holding matching rose-trimmed sugar bowl and creamer was waiting for the complementary teapot to complete the arrangement.
A car door opened and closed with a solid thud outside the dining room window. As my guest rang the doorbell, her driver turned and exited the laneway. Long slender feet peeked from beneath a soft pastel, ankle-length dress. Her hair was caught in a cluster of soft curls at the back of her head, while crystal beads and soft grey gloves completed her ensemble. I was glad I had taken pains to make the tea table look its elegant best. I had anticipated this day for so long, I almost cried to think it was actually happening. We exchanged hugs and exclamations of delight at seeing each other. I saw her gracefully seated in a comfortable chair before excusing myself to turn the element on under the tea kettle. It took less than a minute for the water to arrive at the right temperature for coaxing the most flavour from the tea leaves.
I set the tea pot down and offered my guest the plate of dainties while waiting for the brew to steep. She commented on the variety of squares and cookies and took her time making her selection. The roses on the china, napkins and tablecloth didn’t go unnoticed. She was delighted by the array, and that I was using my finest in her honour.
Oh, what a delightful time it was! We shared future dreams and talked of silly times past. We shared gossip about those we knew in common and laughed our way through several jokes. We even recited poems that each had read or heard recently. We talked of flowers and animals, the river nearby and our favourite foods.
This wonderful tea party is the joy that memories are made of. Having looked forward to this occasion for it seemed forever, all the time wondering if it was ever going to happen, I was disappointed to hear the crunch of tires in the laneway signalling the return of my guest’s driver. It was too soon. Surely an hour couldn’t have passed this quickly!
My guest patted her mouth with her rose-embroidered napkin and daintily placed her silver spoon on her rose-trimmed saucer. She looked at me and reached out her arms for one more hug before she moved toward the door.
I watched as her driver smiled in my direction before opening the car door and making sure the very important passenger was safely inside. My guest turned and gave a regal wave with her gloved hand as the car exited the laneway.
The tears came at the same time as my smile. I knew even though this tea party was long in coming, it wouldn’t be the last. Too many times half-completed plans had to be put aside. Too many times unexpected delays disrupted this long awaited day. Now it had arrived and it was everything I had anticipated. I knew I would savour every word of our conversation, every poem shared, every silly joke. This would be a treasured snapshot in my memory book.
As I gathered the empty rose-trimmed tea cups and dusted the crumbs from the rose-embroidered tablecloth I started thinking about the pastries I would bake and the centrepiece I would craft for my next tea party with Miss Abby Rose.
Maybe next time we’ll let her mother join us instead of just dropping her off and picking her up. After all, my daughter was instrumental in my move from Thunder Bay to Ottawa so that my four-year-old granddaughter and I could have elegant tea parties together.
Do you have fond memories of times shared with a grandchild, niece, nephew? You can see above how a simple tea party has become a fond story to be shared with my grandchild. It doesn’t have to be a page and a half. It can be a hand-written paragraph written on nice paper and included in a birthday card. The recipient will be tickled pink (or blue) that the occasion meant so much to you.
NOTE: For those who want to download and print a copy of this article to share a .pdf copy is here.
You may contact Phyllis directly by email Phyllis@richmondhub.ca