Each subsequent year, I looked forward to the Ladies’ Tea on Christmas Eve almost as much as I looked forward to everything else – the cookie making, the gifts, the magic of the season. I loved shooing out the men in our lives – my dad and my brother Adam– this was for girls only, we’d exclaim. They acted indignant, but it was all for show.
We shared tea for years and years and years. Our time together, like the tea we shared, was delicious and warm, infused with love. In 1993, when I was a freshman in high school, things changed. My beloved grandma died in the earliest hours of Christmas Eve, before we’d had a chance to drink our tea. It was not unexpected, yet the grief and pain of losing her on such an important and significant day shattered my heart like the fine china we’d sipped from. There was no tea that year….
….or the next one, either. I was angry that my grandma died on Christmas Eve, because the magic of Christmas was gone. Her death created a permanent stain in our teacups, one that refused to lift despite repeated scrubbing. Eventually, though, the stain began to fade, and our tradition resumed…
Many Christmas Eves later, when Adam was home for a visit and my future husband, Jeff, was staying with us, our tea tradition took a turn for the worse. Throwing our good sense down the drain along with the steeped tea leaves, my mother and I – the only women in the house – foolishly decided to allow the men to join us for tea, but only if they promised to be on their best behavior. We should have known that trouble lay ahead when they turned their noses up at our
In 2006, Adam, his partner Linsey, and their son Hugo joined us for Christmas; my mom and I were thrilled to have another woman join us for tea. Linsey had heard about this tradition before, and arrived prepared… with a new blend of “tea,” this one more of the bubbly and spirited kind. We exchanged our Wedgwood for
Since Linsey’s tea with us those years ago, we’ve continued to faithfully set out the special Santa tea pot each year - but we’ve abandoned tea in favor of one variety or another of sparkling wine. Yet I sense that the eve is approaching, soon, when the tradition will change again, when we will go back to tea with way too much sugar and milk, for there are up-and-coming eight-year-olds in this house. I have no daughters, but I do have three very fine sons who will revel in the opportunity to sip tea on Christmas Eve with two of their favorite women ever – Mom and Grandma. Our time together promises to be delicious and warm, infused with love.