SWEET SIXTEEN

Sandy McGuire

Originally, the annual spring outdoor tea was held the day before Mother's Day to honor mothers and daughters, friendships, and the renewal of God's wonderful love for us. Another purpose was to expose our daughters to proper etiquette and behavior for a formal afternoon event, such as formal invitations, creating favors, setting a formal tea table, place cards, how to display and serve food in an appealing manner, providing entertainment, etc. Our guests were encouraged to dress in their best tea attire including hats!

We decided that each year we would have a different theme and the first year we celebrated Sandy McGuire's mother's 60th birthday with a "Garden Tea." Our second year was a "May Mystery Tea" and the theme was "The Language of Flowers." Each guest was required to invite their own special mystery guests to join them at their table to encourage new friendships. Each hostess was responsible for the decoration and table setting to support the theme.

The tea is blessed each year with a special "tea prayer" which is given as a keepsake to each guest. All guests read it in unison.

Each year we also try to introduce new tea-time dainty edibles and party favors such as: "tea-themed" stationary, straw hearts filled with potpourri, miniature clay pots filled with birdseed wrapped with tulle tied with a ribbon, assorted tea grab bags, heart-shaped note cards inserted into a folded doily, miniature bouquets of flowers, rose soap tied in a white hanky.

"Afternoon Tea Serenade" was the name of our tea the third year and the theme was "Spring's Abundant Blessings" and each hostess decorated their table according to their interpretation of the theme. We also featured specific recipes taken from the book, "Afternoon Tea Serenade" by Sharon O'Connor.

This year we celebrated our daughters' sixteenth birthday with a "Sweet Sixteen Tea." Mothers were asked to provide an endearing letter or note to their daughter who was presented with a long-stem Nicole rose. Photographs of the mothers as teenagers, as well as photos of the daughters under the age of five, were displayed on the sign-in table. The guests entered the tea through arches beautifully decorated with tulle, roses, ivy and ribbon. The girls were seated at a centrally located table decorated in many shades of pink and each girl brought their own teacup and saucer. Their chairs were decorated with tulle and ribbon. Also at the table were special friends invited by our daughters. Each girl received a bookmark with a special verse. This year each girl was asked to stand by their mother as the mother read a special "sweet sixteen" prayer to their daughter.

We also asked each girl to complete a special questionnaire for a "time capsule." We plan to get the girls together for a 21st birthday tea and open the "capsule."

Usually the girls entertain by singing, playing an instrument, and reciting poetry. This year we had a harpist (whose fee was shared by the mothers) and one of our guests, a professional photographer, took mother/daughter and group photos for a nominal fee.

We look forward to next year and the new friendships and renewal of old friendships that continue to develop with each tea.

STRAWBERRY BREAD
Credits to Brenda Dana

2 pkgs. 10 oz. each frozen strawberries, thawed
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups salad oil
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two loaf pans. In blender, mix together thawed berries, eggs and oil until just blended together. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, soda, salt and nuts. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, pour in strawberry mixture and stir just till blended. Pour into pans and bake one hour or until toothpick inserted into loaf comes out clean.
Serve with Philadelphia Strawberry Cream Cheese.

A SWEET SIXTEEN PRAYER FOR MY DAUGHER

I loved you before I saw you
With a love that cannot compare.
A miraculous blessing you are,
And a miracle God and I share.
And the person you've become,
A beautiful and wonderful daughter,
Unique and only one.
As I've watched you develop through infancy,
Adolescence and now a teen
I cannot help but smile
For the joys together we've seen.
Through gladness, sorrow, laughter and tears
I've held your hand and soothed your fears.
As your path in life takes a new course
Time to let go at times causes me remorse.
God's help in deciding my request as you grow.
Whenever you're surrounded by darkness
And feel like you're in a tomb
Where every image is of pain
And every word a wound,
I pray God let you find one small crack
In that eternal night
And open wide your house of fears
To let in Love's pure light.
I pray for God's guidance
And wisdom for you,
To seek His will and feel His presence
Your whole life through.
Be strong in your faith
Like a rock that cannot move
It will carry you through life
Solid and true.
With each new day and every night
Ask God for His mercy and care,
And know that my love for you
Is a love that is beyond compare.

Love, Mom


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