Dear Courtney, Zach and Erin,
While cleaning the basement today I ran across The Tea Set in its floppy, coming apart, and original packaging. Every time I run across this set it brings a flood of memories and your sweet voices that somehow are able travel in a way that I almost hear them. I believe this set was a Christmas gift for you, Courtney, from Grandma Trudy and Papa, about eighteen years ago.
The many tiny, little pitchers of juice and pop – which you thought looked life coffee – that were consumed bring me back to a place where I hear this, “Oops, I spilled again.” So many napkins were used during so many tea parties. You felt so grown up pouring and drinking your own pop tea.
The miniature plates held endless tiny triangle sandwiches. I don’t know why peanut butter and jelly and tasted so much better when cut this way and served on these plates, but it did. I would put them on a saucer and set them in the center of your little round wooden table, and then you would serve each other, passing that plate back and forth. The manners you used…it was amazing and precious.
Courtney was the first to use this tea set. You would serve your stuffed animals, and me, and dad, and Ben. Oh, Ben…our neighbor from two doors down – who in all reality was a grandpa who loved each of you to the moon and back. How many tea parties he and Bernice enjoyed….
After Christmas, the first year you received it, you sat in your playroom with dad on many Saturday mornings and poured pop coffee for “Aunt Kathy, Grandma Trudy, Papa, Grandma Verona, Uncle Lorne, Aunt Tracey” and more…so many family members served by you – from 500 miles away. I loved to hear the names of our family roll off your tongue. Dad, ever patient, would sit there and enjoy every minute – even as he sometimes had originally been making his way to the garage.
I will always remember (and in case I don’t, now I have written it down) when you, Courtney and Zach, pretended to be in a hotel restaurant having lunch. Courtney, in your sweetest little five year old voice you would say things like, “Could you please pass the sandwiches, husband.” And likewise, Zach in your little 3 ½ year old voice would say, “Of course, wife.” and pass you the plate. I also remember him spilling many times that day and you cleaning it up over and over and telling him it was OK.
And Erin….oh Erin. Do you remember your 5th Birthday party with your friends? They came home with you after morning kindergarten – all wearing pretty dresses. We had gloves and hats and even a boa or two. You had your Tea Party Birthday lunch in the dining room and you and your friends drank endless little pitchers of pop coffee. Suddenly there was all kinds of burping coming from the dining room, accompanied by so much laughter – and then a reminder (by you) that you were ladies and shouldn’t burp like that – but then you did. That memory makes me laugh even today!
For eighteen years this little set has been kept in its original plastic packaging – which is now falling apart. I found a new container for it, and as I pack it up to put back on a shelf in the basement, I just have to put this note in the box as well. You know how I am – sentimental and all, I am thinking of when you will have children of your own. I imagine your children with their tiny little hands touching the same plates and spilling from the same little miniature pitcher.
There are some things that I just have been unable to pass on to another, throw or donate. This is one of those things, I believe it’s because each time I see it, there is just so much that comes to life in my mind.
Maybe I’ll pack it in napkins.