My church has an annual Ladies' Christmas Tea. The first year I joined the church (2005), I turned my too-cool-for-anything nose up at the thought. I mean puh-LEEZE! Have you MET me? I am so not the ladies tea type. You just have no idea. If it's dainty or in any way girly, I usually sneer at it and then kick it just for good measure. Girly = weak. And while I am human like everyone else and have weaknesses, let me tell you, I was never going to show the world any weakness that might be mistaken for "girly".
After getting to know all the women at my church (and let me tell you, we have some girly girls there!), I realized that hanging out with them in any venue or forum just might be ok. I loved them all in small group or at church. And even the girly girls were absolutely rockin'. And they certainly weren't weak! Some of the girliest girls in my church have weathered stuff that would make some big truck drivin' men cry like...well...girls. So as my attitude shifted, I thought, well, when the tea rolls around in 2006 maybe - just maybe - I'll give it a whirl. And whirl I did. My sister and best friend from my 'hood accompanied me. I certainly wasn't going to take on a bunch of girly girls at tea without some backup. So me and my posse went to the tea and it TOTALLY rocked. Let me tell you, I sat there thinking, ok, next year, I'm totally hosting a table!
Now let me tell you what my church does. Each woman hosts a table (Rosie is brave enough to host TWO). If there is a theme, you decorate accordingly. Now, I wasn't expecting much. It was going to be at our "church" (ie - the cafeteria of the elementary school we meet in), after all. How grand can that get? The answer? Pretty darn grand! The ladies and a ton of volunteers covered the walls from floor to ceiling in blue material. They strung lights across the ceiling. They decorated the stage front with wreaths, garland and lights. And then there were the tables. My goodness! Each lady had a 60" table. And these ladies should be set decorators for Martha Stewart!! I walked in and thought, um...where'd the cafeteria go??? We all sit and are served tea by all the men in our church. A caterer provides very dainty finger foods - like little sandwiches with no crust. Somehow, crust must be low-brow. But I like the no-crust sammiches. It was just...cool! And girly. Girly and cool? Is that possible? Apparently so.
I'm pretty sure I accosted our pastor's wife and a few others in charge and told them, "I want to host a table next year!" And I did.
In 2007, the theme was "And God so love the world." So we each picked a country and decorated our table accordingly. I picked the Philippines because my birth-father's family is from there and I figured it would have all sorts of exotic and different customs for Christmas. Well, I was a bit wrong on that. It's a mostly Catholic country so their traditions were disappointingly just like ours. A few differences were the use of paper lanterns and paper stars. Which the Japanese and Chinese tables would probably have, too. But I didn't care. So I researched the Philippines more and realized that most of the items I might decorate with would be either Chinese, Japanese, Spanish or American in nature. It was originally populated by the same people from the Asian mainland that populated places like Japan, Easter Island and Hawaii. Then it was occupied or controlled by Spain, Japan, the US and probably more. So my table was going to be a melting pot. No problem.
My center piece was a vase holding an American & Philippine flag and a tall cylindrical paper lantern. I'll find pictures of that later. My place settings consisted of an off-white plate (rather American looking) and a Chinese tea cup and saucer. Then I had a Japanese paper fan and chopsticks (thanks to Beth who had extras at her China table). It was tied together with blue napkins my mom sewed just for the occasion. I had little tea lights at the top of each plate. And a little felt red heart ornament near the plate. The ladies were allowed to take home everything but the big plate, the silverware, and the napkins. I gave them each little paper gift bags in which to carry their loot.
Here is a picture of my place setting taken by my wonderful friend Summer (who blew us all away with her Japanese table with a centerpiece that towered over even the tallest men in the room!).
My mom and sister came. Two neighbors weren't able to make it at the last minute so that was a bummer. I remember wishing Jane could have been there. And thinking that Trish would get a hoot out of how into it I was! I think next year you all should fly in for the tea!!! Ha!
I told the organizers that they need to get a venue for next year that had cathedral ceilings. Because my center piece will be 28 feet high. Got that Summer???! (I kid)