I love tea parties. Anyone who knows me knows that. When I turned 30, my mom gave a tea party for me in her home. It was so beautiful; I'll never forget it. What I remember most from the day though was coming into the kitchen after the party where she was cleaning up, only to find her lying on the floor. She had wanted to give me a birthday party even though she had just finished chemo, was in the middle of radiation, and had another round of chemo to look forward to right after. Planning and executing the party was so exhausting to her that when it was over, she couldn't even make it to the next room to lie down on the couch. I got her up and up to bed to lie down and finished the clean-up. That's my mom though. That's what she'll do for her daughter.
Now it was time for turnaround. My mom is turning 75 on Tuesday (oh, if she read this blog she'd just be so thrilled that now her age is posted on the Internet). I was dying to do something big for her. Time for a tea party, and this one would be a complete surprise. For the last month I've been planning and scheming and sending invitations to her friends. I decided to limit the guest list to a number of her friends from our old hometown, rather than mixing her new friends or relatives in. I prayed that every person would RSVP yes, and all but three did. There would be about 20 of us total. Since it's a fair distance from where I live now, I've spent a lot of time on the phone coordinating rides for people. I had a cover story ready for her--the girls and I were going to take her to the Japanese gardens and for tea there for her birthday.
Everything was set to go. Then on Tuesday, Lucy got some horrible stomach virus. She was up with her little bucket in hand, all night long. Time to pray again, this time that neither Mom nor I would get sick. Well, the crucial 50% of that prayer was answered--Mom stayed well. By 2 a.m. Thursday morning, I was sicker than I think I've been in my life. I thought the pearly gates were in my very near future for sure, and I was actually glad about it. The best thing (??) about the virus was that it was pretty much over within 24 hours. I was as weak as a dishrag, but the party was still on. I worked frantically Friday night and Saturday morning. By 2:30 p.m. everyone was here, we were all dressed (very important), and all waiting for Mom. She had no clue.
When she walked into our living room and saw all her friends cheering for her and singing Happy Birthday...everything was worth it for that moment. She was totally overwhelmed and thrilled. She got to see and talk to all her friends. They seemed to definitely all enjoy the tea food. After everyone had gotten to eat and chat for awhile, we all sat around the living room. I had sent a pink card in each invitation and asked the ladies to write a friendship memory, Bible verse, or wish for the future for Mom. They shared what was on their cards, and I told them about the tribute I had written for my mom for Mother's Day. I knew there was no way I could read that in front of everyone without completely losing my chili, so I had copies printed out for everyone. I did mention the part about how much she loved hymns and the hymn that is her legacy to me: "'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus," which we then sang together. Then I had one of her friends pray for her.
After that, there was a lot more gabbing, and I think everyone was finally gone around 8 p.m.! Mom gave me a big hug and thanked me and said she'd remember that day for the rest of her life. I'm planning to do a scrapbook with pictures from the party and the cards as the rest of her birthday gift.
Oh, and here was the menu: Scones (vanilla & cranberry) with strawberry jam and clotted cream; cucumber sandwiches; chicken salad sandwiches; fruit tarts; poppyseed bread; cranberry bars; lemon bars; high tea lemon cookies; fairy bonbon cookies (Lucy's choice); chocolate pistachio bundt cake; tea, of course, and raspberry cordial. My sister-in-law Rome also made some delicious hot hors d'oeuvres.
I'm going to have to rely mostly on pictures my dad and other people took because I believe my camera and I have finally reached a parting of the ways. It has let me down on too many occasions. The still shots are ok, but all of the ones with any people in them are completely blurry.
Some pics of the table...
Lucy entertaining some guests...
Mom talking to some friends...
Here are a few of the leftover favors. I put some lemon cookies and bonbons in each box. Tied to each is a different quote about mothers from "Stepping Heavenward."
Today I am absolutely exhausted--probably more tired than I've ever been except the two times I've given birth, if that's any indication. There were many times throughout the last couple days when I didn't know if I could go on. I popped Tylenol like they were raisins. I still don't feel 100% after that virus. But it was all completely worth it. It was the most wonderful day. I didn't lie down on the kitchen floor (and Rome and my dad helped me clean the kitchen!), but I am typing this while lying in bed.
It's definitely OK though because that's what daughters do for their mothers. Happy (75th!) birthday, Mom! I love you!