The Living Room was a place for Company only… well, sometimes family - if it was a holiday when we dressed in our Sunday Best. Our shoes, faces, and behavior were shiny and we donned our ruffled socks and dresses. Somehow this room demanded that we sit up straight and wear our manners proudly. There would be no romping and running here like in other rooms of the house! The entire herd of us would gather there before we hunted eggs, sliced the turkey, or ripped open special gifts. Dads laced up with neckties and Moms with bouffant hair and pinched toes. The rest of the time it was closed and quiet, waiting for the Women’s Society group to gather.
Yet, I remember personal tea parties there with silver spoons and a real teapot. Granny and I baked tea cakes. These buttery golden rounds sparkled with diamonds of sugar when we stacked them on the gold-rimmed plate. Lemons sliced, tea brewed, and perched atop the hand-made doily alongside two dessert plates on the shiny tray. A cut-glass vase with some simple blooms was carefully placed on the tray and we majestically entered The Living Room. Granny was like a regal, ornate carriage carrying precious cargo and I pranced like a little foal along behind her.
We were royal queens for what seemed like an hour or two. Ham and cheese sandwiches, shaped like flowers and stars by a cookie cutter, never had been tastier. The tinkle of our stirring and clink of the cup against the saucer were music to my ears. We chatted and balanced on the edge of our seats, nibbling our cookies and sipping our tea. Only the finest was fitting for my Granny and me.
Then, after a while, Granny slipped out the door back to the realities of laundry, lunch for the farmhands, or sweeping the floors. I was left to linger in The Living Room alone to sip more tea and pretend of grand thrones. I toyed with the spines of the books tucked there on the shelves and curled up with a good one whose corners were frayed with wear from the fingers of my mother and aunts long ago. Anne of Green Gables and I became bosom friends for hours on those afternoons and I followed her through Anne of the Island, and Anne of Sunnybrook Farm as well.
Left to enjoy all her finery, I’m sure Granny knew I fingered each fragile piece and carefully returned it to its designated spot before getting acquainted with some new bauble or trinket. Finally I would hear my name being called. It would be time to wash dishes or fold clothes or chop garden weeds. I would stand at the door with one final glance to burn the memory of my privileged party deep into my brain. Then, I would close the door slowly and skip off to find Granny.
I remember these tea parties as if only a week had passed. My gangly, sun-browned limbs bouncing along beside Granny’s sturdy work-bronzed ones probably extended extra hours to her days. Yet, she patiently guided me and shared her softest moments. I think I inherited her green thumb, her baking skills, and eye for things beautiful. I wonder if personal tea parties with my own granddaughters will be recalled years from now as majestic and regal privileges shared with their Grand B?