Every December, a friend of mine throws a Christmas tea party for homeschool mothers at her house. We all bring a plate of goodies to share. Thankfully, I’d made my banana bread over a week ago and frozen it, so all I had to do was take it out of the freezer the night before, and cut it right before leaving. Other people brought French bread and dip (which was so totally delicious, Samantha!), crackers and cheese, veggies and dip, a yummy circle sandwich thing that’s like a big croissant, salad, muffins, orange slices, and cookies, cookies, and more cookies.
A fire was in the fireplace, and a bazillion stockings were hung by the chimney with care. Oh, yes, my darling friend Phillis has 9 children; hence the bazillion stockings. The room had tables with lacy tablecloths and fine china. And what’s a tea party without tea?
I’ll never know why people in this country ask, “How are you?” as a greeting. Do they really want to know that I’ve been sobbing? Could they see my puffy eyes and guess? Or did I do a good job hiding the redness with brown-black mascara?
If I say, “Fine, thank you,” that would be a lie. If I say, “Horrible; how are you?” and smile sweetly at the stunned woman who I can’t possibly tell my troubles to without slandering people, the conversation will turn awkward. And that’s exactly what happened because I refuse to lie. And it’s their fault they asked, besides. So there. Awkwardness was created by them, not me, since they asked me such a personal question.
The food was delicious, as I said, and the homeschool mothers were nice. The awkwardness went away and didn’t matter. We talked about Christmas traditions and interesting stocking stuffers. I was grateful Phillis didn’t call on me, because whenever you’re punched in the stomach by life, you have no air left, and it’s hard to make conversation. (Now writing, on the other hand, is different. It is actually cathartic for me to be writing this. I can re-live the evening and savor it one more time, taking my mind off other things.)
Then came the best part, the part that always makes me laugh. Yes, I laughed. Isn’t that cool? We had an ornament or decoration exchange, and each person gets a number. The first person picks a wrapped present and opens it. The second person can steal the first present or look behind door number 2, I mean, choose a different gift. Things get rowdy right around the middle of the gift exchange, because people steal more than they take a new gift. A set of train tins caused a lot of rukkus, since someone wanted it for her 2-year-old boy, and her close friend stole it right from under her nose. “How could you steal that from a 2-year-old boy!” she yelled with a smile on her face. “What are you going to do with it; put it on the top of the cabinets with your other tins in your kitchen?”
“Yes,” the other woman said smiling, “and your 2-year-old can play with it when he comes over.” We all had a good laugh. One poor woman had her ornaments stolen six times, I think. It was hilarious. It was really a lovely evening. Thank you, ladies.