Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A Tea Party Heritage

“Do you know where I can take my children for tea parties?” a reader asked me.
This mother explained that she and her daughters thought it would be fun if they could dress up and attend an old-fashioned tea party.

The ladies at our church decided they’d have a tea party during refreshment time at their annual Ladies Day, using fancy teapots and cups complete with saucers. Accompanying this would be dainty tea time treats.

My mother-in-law related one of the highlights of a tour she and Dad took to the British Isles. She enjoyed afternoon tea served at the various restaurants where they stopped mid-afternoon. Mum mentioned a variety of dainty sandwiches, scones, crumpets and cookies that accompanied tea time.

Tea Parties

Some favorite memories of my grandmother consist of afternoon tea at her home. Every day, at three o’clock, she and my aunts would stop whatever they were doing and take a break. Nanny always had a cup of tea and my aunts usually coffee. Accompanying this might be fresh homemade bread or cake and cookies. What fun to join them.

Whenever friends visited my grandmother in her home or my parents at our farm, tea often was served along with the discussion. In later years, when I traveled several hours to care for my mom, we’d sit down to tea as soon as I arrived. Then we could discuss family news and my mother’s business.

When Alzheimer’s disease necessitated that my mom receive care in a nursing home, our tea parties continued. There might be just the two of us sharing tea and muffins. Or my grandchildren, who enjoyed visiting their great grandmother, participated in this family ritual.

Children’s Tea Parties

My sister and I had tea parties with our dolls and stuffed animals. I still have a few pieces from these tiny tea sets that we received for Christmas and birthday gifts.

We sat our dolls at a small table or on the couch, then served “pretend” tea with bits of cookies. Our cups contained water or juice.

My granddaughter, too, enjoyed tea parties when she was small. Nowadays, tea is my favorite hot beverage and I try various flavors depending on my mood.

Perhaps this tradition would make a fun album to create through one of the family heritage scrapbooking classes I teach.

(c) Copyright Mary Emma Allen

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