Thursday, July 10, 2008

Taking Tea in the Music City

When I visited my sister, Jennifer, we planned a special girls-day-out to have tea at the historic Hermitage Hotel in downtown Nashville. I crossed off another tea room from my book The Tea Experience on this visit, but this outing was more noteworthy because of the childhood dreams fulfilled that afternoon. Jennifer and I shared many pretend tea parties growing up. We often brought our favorite dolls to tea, dressed in their prettiest clothes. We talked about our husbands, Ponch and John, who were busy patrolling the California highways, as we sipped hot water from Dixie cups. We spent many hours pretending we were grown up. And although we didn't get all the details right, even then we had the wisdom to know that one of our greatest joys as grown-up ladies would be spending time together.

Both Jennifer and I were reminded of our sweet husbands on this trip to the Hermitage. The last time Jennifer entered the hotel lobby, she was dressed in her wedding gown. She and David spent their wedding night there, so it was sentimental for her to return after more than a decade. And not being familiar with the maze of downtown Nashville, near the hotel I was delighted to spot the bakery that made my wedding cake 14 years ago. If they had been open that afternoon, I would have loved to take a confection home to Joe!

Sitting in front of the fireplace in the hotel's grand lobby, past and future collided in such a meaningful way. Seeing my beautiful sister pouring tea across the table from me brought back memories of all the cups of tea we have shared in our lifetime, both real and imagined. Years and familiarity give our times together an ease that brings as much warmth and comfort as any pot of tea. And yet this tea party was made even more special by the presence of our daughters.

At 4 and 2, Mary Ashley and Emma were all giggles and glee to go to tea. While Jennifer and I enjoyed the full afternoon tea, the girls sampled scones and pastries. Of course, Emma was eager to try everything on Mommy's plate! Jennifer's baby, Caitlin, was on her best behavior as the rest of us enjoyed our dainty treats. Of course, at 6 months, she is already an old pro at having tea parties. When I stayed with Jennifer during their first week home from the hospital, I planned a tea so I could be part of Caitlin's first tea experience. And at 2 months, she came to Alabama for Emma's birthday tea for 2. For our trip to the Hermitage, she wore the pink A-line dress with embroidered teacup that I made for Mary Ashley when she was a baby. Caitlin was a perfect little lady the whole afternoon!

Sharing tea with our daughters in the Music City was a special occasion, but for me the real joy came in knowing that this afternoon was only a glimpse of all the special times to come. I look forward to a lifetime of making memories with our daughters. Knowing that we have been granted the privilege of watching them grow up together, my cup overflows. And thinking of sharing their lives over a pot of tea in the years to come is music to my ears.

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