03-23-2002 @ 10:36 p.m.
The Pagan Springtime Ritual
The stage was set: Peter Rabbit tea set on the bistro-sized table. Easter tree and egg-shaped candles in the center of the table. Buffet table lined with teapot, sugar bowl, creamer, plates of sandwiches--heart-shaped cheese sandwiches, triangle-shaped cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off and long, skinny cream cheese and smoked salmon sandwiches on puff pastry, bowls overflowing with big, deep red strawberries, creme fraiche strawberry dipping sauce and baby carrots. The girls were beautiful in their Easter dresses and lace anklets, eagerly awaiting their chance to go on a treasure hunt. The sun was shining and the temperature was in the mid 50s. So far, so good.
As the girls played in the bedroom, the adults tiptoed around the house hiding the clue eggs and the decoy eggs. Music from O Brother Where Art Thou sang out from the stereo.
When all the eggs were hidden, the girls were given the first clue and off the went, reading riddles and finding more clues. Finally, after 17 clues, they found the big bonanza in the dryer--purple glassine bags with lime green tissue poking out of it, each girl's name emblazoned on a bag. Their eyes widened and their mouths opened in a reverent "ohhhh."
They took their bags to the couch and opened them up, squealing in delight as they reached in and pulled out their Groovy Girls dolls. The rest of their goodies spilled out--SweeTarts, sugarless bubblegum, fingernail polish, white chocolate bunnies, pens, glitter glue, erasers, bath fizzies, and a few other sundries. They giggled and talked and played.
Then the tea party began. The giggly girls found their seats at the table and carefully pulled their napkins from the mushroom-shaped rings and placed them on their laps. As one adult poured the tea, another helped with the sugar and a third served tea sandwiches, crackers and goodies and then the girls were left to drink their tea, nibble their goodies and use their best tea party manners. The adults repaired to the kitchen to have their own tea party. The afternoon passed with smiles and surprises and sweets.
I picture Joey talking with friends, years hence, about the Pagan Springtime Ritual tea party and about the Christmas tea party. I see her looking off into the distance as she describes the little sandwiches and the cute little tea set. I see her pouring tea for her own little one, perhaps telling her about tea parties Grandma threw years ago. I see myself watching as the tradition I started is followed and passed down to another generation, sitting at the Peter Rabbit tea party table, sipping chamomile with my pinky outstretched. And then I will know that even when I'm gone physically, I will still be here in the hearts of those who have loved me.
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