Friday, December 17, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Grab Bag

The Christmas Tea 
 
When I was a child, growing up in Southern Tier New York State, my mother would attend the annual Women's Society in Christian Service Christmas Tea at our church. Hostesses would bring their best table linens, china service, sterling silver flatwear and a special Christmas dessert to be shared with all the ladies . . . and my mother was ALWAYS a hostess. I remember her baking and gathering all her finest, wrapping them in towels and packing them in boxes to take to church. I had always wished I could attend . . . .

Years later while living in Western Massachusetts, I longed for such a tradition to begin in our local church, but the people there were not accustomed to such elaborate celebrations as an English Christmas High Tea, so we opted for a Christmas Cookie Exchange instead. But even that wasn't what I was accustomed to, where women in the church brought several dozen of their family's favorite home-baked Christmas cookies and enough copies of the recipe to exchange with all the participants. In that circle, busy women weren't inclined to bake holiday treats, and some even resorted to purchasing cookies at the local supermarket . . .

Still longing for a traditional Christmas Tea, I spoke to a good friend who suggested we begin the tradition on our own. So, that year I hosted our first annual Christmas tea at my home with the special addition of using Delores' bone china cup and saucer collection. The fellowship became the tradition I had always hoped for, and each year I would invite a select group of friends to share tea and cakes, and other holiday treats, mingled with laughter and good conversation. What special times they were.

Now that I am living in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina, I am finding people even less inclined to attend such a formal occasion which perhaps the Vanderbilt might have enjoyed at the Biltmore Estate in times past.

It will, however, remain a very fond memory that perhaps one day might be revived in another place.

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