Friday, December 5, 2008
Aaaah, tea. The magic elixir. The nectar of the gods. The infusion of scent, grace, and caffeine that keeps us all civilized as well as sane.
And what is tea without a little something to nibble with it? Whether it be a simple cookie or a buttery scone or a fancy confection, a little something to consume along with tea is a must.
Well, tomorrow afternoon is our annual ladies' Christmas Tea at Lake Murray. We have sixteen tables planned, all consisting of eight to ten ladies. Each table has an assigned hostess who brings her own tea things: china cups and plates, silverware and teapots, napkins and tablecloths, candles and centerpiece. Other ladies prepare the two courses: sandwiches and fruit, and a dessert course. The sandwiches are lovely, usually some chicken salad in mini-croissants, some ham and cheese, some cucumber and cream cheese, etc. The desserts are delicate and divine, with chocolate truffles, fruit tarts, slices of cake, and Christmas cookies. My favorites are the almond cookies covered in powdered sugar --- mmmmm! And tea -- all sorts are provided, from typical blacks to delicate greens to fragrant herbals. Lemon, sugar, and cream are available at every table.
And there's the chatting that takes place over tea. This year we have assigned tables, so we'll have some women we know, and others we don't know so well. Many women bring friends, mothers, sisters from outside the church to sample the delicacies and enjoy the afternoon. We talk about all sorts of subjects, warming to complete strangers over the civilizing influence of tea.
The program is also fun and brings a mixture of laughter and tears. The door prizes (very nice ones at that!) are fun to give away, and much laughter always ensues. Adrienne, our resident stand-up comedienne, always gives us food for thought along with our not-so-ladylike guffaws. And the speaker, always different each year, brings us to tears somehow as the Holy Spirit touches our hearts in a new-old way that we never seem to expect.
But my favorite part is the carols. Joan leads us from her seat at the grand piano in the classics, and all the women's voices rise and fall as one -- the sheer beauty of the voices melding together into a beautiful euphony almost always brings me to tears. I hope that at least one of my favorite carols will be sung: "O Holy Night," "Angels We Have Heard on High," or "What Child Is This?" (In that order.)
Somehow we always enter the tea frazzled, harried, busy with whatever part we play in the tea (mine is lettering all of the place cards and name tags for 135 women), and we find ourselves relaxing over hot tea, warm friends old and new, and delicate eatables. We pray, sing, listen, laugh, hug, and pray some more, and somehow we leave, at peace with the world and ready for the Christmas season to swing into full gear. Yes, we may feel frazzled and harried throughout the month, but there will be a little well of peace in our innermost hearts that wouldn't be there without our afternoon tea on the first Saturday of December.