lifted six saucers out of her
cupboard and gingerly placed them upon her lace-covered dining room
table. She was filled with anticipation. Never before had she served
tea in these cups. Claudette was content to sip her own tea from
the antique teacups she had collected. Those cups had cracks and
even little chips in them. But these teacups were special. These
teacups had been her mother's. Although she herself had never filled
these cups with tea, Claudette knew that they were filled with her
own memories of her mother's tea parties. The rustle of silk and
taffeta dresses, the aroma of hot scones, her mother's gracious
hospitality - all her happy memories of helping her mother pour
tea were stored in these six cups.
___Almost before she could think about
it, Claudette had volunteered to host the first tea party for this
brand-new tea society. She was so eager to use her teacups!
___As she arranged soft globes of ivory
hydrangea blossoms in an old silver teapot that had lost it's lid,
she was pleased to note that her table was already taking a soft
elegance. Although she loved the beauty of a formal tea, Claudette
didn't want this party to be too formal, so she had sent the following
invitation to her new friends:
It's a joy
to be your hostess,
I'm as honored as can be
To ask you please to join me
For a vintage fashion tea.
Join me as we celebrate
A bygone era's charm
Add a broach, a shawl, or a boa
Draped across you arm.
An antique dress, a drawstring purse
We'd love to see all that---
Express your style and femininity,
Just please don't wear a hat!
was certain that a vintage fashion
theme would keep conversation flowing for the society's first tea.
Besides, dressing up was downright fun!
___The doorbell chimed just as Claudette
was glancing in the mirror and straightening the cameo brooch that
fastened her lace cape. She opened the door and welcomed Suzette,
Lillian, Ruby, and Laura who presented her with a hostess gift from
all of them. Claudette was deeply touched by her new friends' thoughtfulness.
Knowing how she loved old things they had given her an antique silver
demitasse spoon, thinking (correctly!) that she might enjoy collecting
them. Thanking them one by one, Claudette ushered her guests into
their living room, where she had set up folding tables.
___Now the ladies knew why Claudette
had said not to wear a hat! For on the tables, there sat everything
they needed to make their own beautiful hats for their first tea.
___When the last hat was finished,
the ladies put them on and had an impromptu fashion show. Laura
was attired in her mother's wedding dress, Suzette wore a lovely
eyelet summer frock, and Gloria modeled a simple evening gown her
mother had worn to her first dance. Lillian didn't own any vintage
clothing, so she made herself a beautiful black brocade vest. She
added a "collar" by attaching half of an antique hankie
on each side of the neck opening. She then added vintage buttons
and attached and antique charm bracelet where a watch chain might
be. Ruby had created a "vintage" blouse by transferring
locket-sized old photos onto fabric and then covering buttons with
the fabric. How wonderful each of these ladies looked in her fashionable
___After the spirited conversation
and fashion show, the ladies entered the dining room as Claudette
brought the food out from the kitchen. There they were transported
from the world of vintage fashion to the grace of yesteryear. The
table's crowning joy was a cake shaped like a hat that perched on
a glass cake stand. Around the base of the hat's crown were pansies
freshly picked from Claudette's window box. A big bow of French
ribbon adorned one side of the cake. Around the base of the cake
stand were small, framed pictures of vintage fashions, which had
been collected from the fashion magazines that Claudette had found
at antique stores. Claudette had also found antique monogrammed
hankies for each guest to use as a napkin. After carefully folding
each napkin so that the prettiest corner would show, she had tied
a pastel satin ribbon around the middle as a napkin ring, then fastened
the bow with an old pin or earring.
___Beside each plate Claudette had
tucked an old pair of gloves. Her guests were invited to take these,
as well as the hankies, home with them. The ladies hurried to try
on these fancy gloves before the tea was served.
___Each place setting was highlighted
by a one-of-a-kind teacup that had belonged to Claudette's mother.
Thin cheese straws (which Claudette called "hat-pins"),
ribbon sandwiches, and sugar scones were arranged on beautiful pieces
of vintage china. Because none of the china matched, each setting
was a distinctly beautiful presentation. In little porcelain baskets
sat an orange marmalade and a new version of Devonshire cream, which
was promptly named "Sandy's Tea Society Cream". Not only
was it delicious, it was also so easy to make that everyone wanted
to include it at her tea! "Buttons" - sugar cookies decorated
like buttons with borders, stripes, and polka dots of icing - rested
on a lacy paper doily in an antique silver Victorian cake basket.
___Claudette poured Earl Grey tea from
an old Bavarian teapot decorated with rows of pansies and offered
sugar cubes, cream, and lemon slices to her friends as they served
themselves from her beautiful table. After they were all seated,
Claudette asked each guest to tell about the most memorable dress
she had ever owned. As they reminisced about ball gowns, Easter
frocks, and back-to-school dresses,. the memories turned to favorite
places and special people. Exchanging stories, it became apparent
they had all been influenced by their mothers' fashion tastes. Gloria
pointed out that her wedding dress would be her most memorable dress
-- if only she had a reason to buy one!
___All too soon, the delightful afternoon
was over. As the tea society bid each other fond good-byes, Gloria
admonished everyone to hold onto their hats - they would need them
again soon. But Laura's turn to host the tea came next. Claudette
had surprised them all. They couldn't help but wonder what Laura
would have in store for them!