Tea parties. It is something all little girls have done throughout time. I remember the first tea set I was given by an elderly couple when I was about 5 years old. I used to set up my little table with all the little tea cups and saucers, one for each stuffed animal and special doll I could find. I don’t remember how often it happened that my older brothers would join me, but I do have at least one picture to attest to that fact!
It was during a time my Grandmother from Norway was visiting. She had broken her leg roller skating and was seated at my tea table with her cast on, smiling as always. Even pretend tea parties, where the tiny cups and saucers were filled with juice, were just as fun as if they had been filled with steaming hot tea. It was the art of pretending and imagination that mattered. I was always coming up with interesting games to play. For some reason, the idea of the tea party had always stayed with me. I remember when I was a little older going to swim at the public pool on weekends. I would always get my friends to have a tea party with me under water. We would swim to the bottom of the pool and serve tea to one another while sipping from our imaginary cups. It became a ritual for us. I don’t know what embedded the experience into my mind.
Perhaps the idea of tea was so appealing to me because of a song my Dad used to sing to me when I was little. It went, “a ship came from China with a cargo of tea, a bucket for you and a bucket for me..” I remember the melody of the song so clearly. It always cheered me up to hear him sing it. It filled my mind with thoughts of intrigue and adventure. The idea of a cargo of tea travelling across the ocean sounded so exotic to me.I imagined the ship and the tides, and the delicate tea coming from a foreign land.
No matter where the idea came from, I have always been excited about tea and tea parties. Perhaps it had something to do with wanting to feel grown up. There was something so delicate and dignified about having a tea party. Whether it was with my stuffed animals, or under water with my friends, it was always an experience that brought me joy and laughter. I embraced this idea long before I knew anything about the history behind tea parties and the Victorian era. It was engrained at an early age and I like to think that perhaps, there is a little tea party in all of us.