Sarah Simpson

Sarah Simpson

Sarah Simpson Column: Tea party tradition revived

Our tea parties aren’t your typical affairs

I keep forgetting that my birthday is coming up, as it tends to do without fail this time every year.

As if I shouldn’t be reminded of this date every time I stand and my aching knees bellow at me to sit back down or when I walk and my ankles remind me they’re most certainly there with every step I take. Even worse, the arthritis in my hands warning me “the rain is coming” as only those with joint issues can understand.

I was reminded about my birthday the other night when my husband and son returned home from some special time together out of the house.

My boy came running up the stairs yelling “Dad bought me a new lunchbox!”

That child would never be excited about a new lunch box. He doesn’t like change, for one. He also never likes to actually eat what’s in his lunch either, so he’d be sure to dismiss a new container for it. My daughter on the other hand… well, that’s another story.

Anyway, my eight-year-old bounded up the stairs and said to his questioning sister, “I didn’t actually get a lunch box.”

I was sitting right there.

“I know,” she said, in a tone explaining that she, too, knows he wouldn’t be that keen on a new lunchbox.

“We got Mom a lunch box for her birthday!”

That tells me right there the boy and his dad sneaked out after dinner under the guise of special time together to go buy me a birthday present — something my husband likely tried to keep quiet and my son sort of spoiled.

I’m pretty sure they didn’t get me a lunch box, though, that was just the ruse. Thankfully, he didn’t give up what they got me. But he did remind me my birthday is upcoming.

I suppose I should thank my joints for letting me forget for a while.

We had been cleaning up after dinner when the boys had decided they were going to go out for a while. I’m pretty sure it had nothing to do with the fact there were dishes to do and counters to wipe down etc., but one couldn’t rule it out either.

After the boys had left, I looked over at my daughter and said, “Hey, do you wanna have a tea party?”

Her eyes lit up.

“We haven’t had a tea party in years!” she blurted out excitedly.

That may have been a little hyperbolic, but she’d made her point. Back when her dad used to drive her brother to Ladysmith one evening a week, I had to come up with a way to get my daughter upstairs and ready for bed on time despite her knowing her brother, two years older, was still out after dark.

I decided to make two cups of tea — one in a giant mug for me, and one in a tiny cappuccino mug for her — and haul out whatever types of cookies were in the house and carry it on a tray upstairs to my bed and call it a tea party. We’d turn on whatever show was on. Sometimes we even painted our nails.

Our tea parties aren’t your typical affairs and I didn’t think they meant that much to her until I saw her excitement at the mere suggestion. Nothing fancy, no tiny sandwiches or proper china. Just a mom and her daughter enjoying each other’s company — with some tea and a tray of cookies.

She pulled out the tray while I made the tea and was delighted when I added a touch of sugar to her cup after the milk to make her tea a little more palatable.

She beamed as she spilled the tea all over herself trying to drink it when it was too full and she carefully taste-tested each cookie laid out to determine the order in which she’d eat them.

(I’m a veteran at this by now, so I had the cloth ready to mop up the mess, and the child.)

She had one cookie left when her brother came running up the staircase.

Without a word, I looked at her, my eyes wide, and she instantly knew what to do.

My six-year-old jammed the last cookie in her mouth and chewed it up so fast I wondered if she actually chewed at all. When her brother entered the room, all he saw was a tidy tray with two cups of nearly finished tea on it. Our tea party secrets were safe.

It’s a good thing he didn’t notice the chocolate cookie all over her face…

ColumnistComedy and Humour