A favorite activity of little girls in any culture is playing Tea Party. We loved to impersonate those most favored princesses, real or fairy tale, in our amusement. Dressing up adds an air of perfection as we play tea party or house.
My first tea party—at least in my current state of dismemory—took place in our neighborhood when I was about seven. Typically we played house setting up bulky cement blocks to section off rooms.
Our furnishings were meager. Our imaginations were not. We scrounged a few pieces of our mothers’ clothing from dirty laundry piles. Using the matching dress belts to hoist up the long dresses, we paraded around the back yard mangling their best dress shoes in tufts of grass and dirt.
My sister, who shall remain nameless, was so proud of the padded bra she discovered that she purposely wore it over her clothing to make sure everyone saw her curves! She beamed. Still shaking my head, I grin at that amusing mental image.
We busied ourselves immediately in fashioning party foods to go with our mishmash of leftover pieces from various tea sets, mostly metal with peeling paint while singing or humming a favorite tune titled Playmate.
♪♫Hey, hey, oh Playmate, come out and play with me, ♫and bring your dollies three, ♪♫Climb up my apple tree .♫Slide down my rain barrel onto my cellar door ♪♫ and we’ll be jolly friends, forevermore.♫
There’s a second verse to that little ditty transporting me to more carefree days.
The delicacies we created were exquisite. We filled jelly jars with scraggly wildflowers (likely weeds). We made mud pies carefully decorated with intricately arranged tiny yet perfect leaves, blades of grass, clover blossoms, wee purple blooms and gravel. Oh yum!
Living on the edge of poverty, we filled various containers with water for our make believe tea. We chained necklaces and crowns from wild daisies, fashioned bracelets from clover, decorated our ‘table’ with stacks of inverted hollyhock blooms and much more.
We mimicked royalty, lifting our pinkies in unison and drank hungrily yet leaving a void in our bellies signaling lunchtime.
There are not many females who wouldn’t enjoy a real tea party, so . . . About ten years ago a friend’s family threw her one for her sixtieth birthday. I stood amazed at the creativity in hats, gloves, beads galore and more styles for the festive occasion. Her husband folded a towel across his arm and served all twenty or so of us, bowing in subservience.
It was such fun and everyone enjoyed it so very much that when I turned seventy a few years ago, that was all I wanted—a Tea Party with my friends—and my dream came true. About two dozen of us shared fancy tea cups, miniature finger sandwiches, petit fours, and all sorts of tiny treats along with an amazing birthday cake handcrafted by my talented daughter.
Last week, a friend and I planned a small (keeping the numbers low during this pandemic) luncheon for a friend’s birthday. We decided to make it a tea party because the honoree had enjoyed attending mine so very much. We planned and prepared all sorts of tiny bites and tidbits of scrumptiousness.
*Side note. My tiny lemon, blueberry tartlets were a huge hit as were the co-hostess’s petit fours. We sipped Buttermint tea with sugar and cream, naturally. We noshed as we tried other varieties. It was a divine step back in time.
The tablescape was formal and delightful. She had brought out her best China—with roses in the center of the white dishes trimmed with silver. Every single piece used was part of a matching set given to her by her aunt.
*Side note. It’s a shame that nobody uses or wants these beauties any longer. In our disposable society, even holiday meals are often served on paper plates with red Solo cups. Tsk, tsk.
Females enjoy playing dress up regardless of the name or occasion so we doffed hats with wide brims, big flowers and flowing ribbons. We wore jewelry—lots of it. We donned feminine dresses with lace if we had it.
We posed for pictures, with pinky toasts. We laughed. We talked. We admired and encouraged one another. We put the last eighteen months of pandemic aside for a few hours. Simply put, we enjoyed being refined ladies and relished our afternoon with other agreeable specimens of the fairer sex.
Most men appear content without much companionship beyond their family but women need other women. We need to let our hair down—or tuck it up under the wide brim of our party hats!
Life is short so enjoy it. Get up. Dress up. Show up. It’s Tea Time!
A coal miner’s daughter born in Appalachia and schooled in Michigan, she currently lives in rural Athens. Hill describes herself as a cook and cookbook author, jack of all trades and master of none, a Christian wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She shares her home with her husband, Bob, and their spoiled-beyond-belief dog, Molly.