Thursday, 8 October 2009

Autumn Reflections

Autumn is a season that teases:
it is mild and sunny;
then cold and dreary.
Summer revisits and gives us balmy days.
Winter makes an early call,
to prepare us for what is to come.
Flowers still bloom,
until they are killed by the frost.
Birds of all kinds come to our feeders.
Squirrels take their turn,
until they are scared away by our dog.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

A Victorian Birthday Tea

A year ago I had emailed my sisters the idea of having a birthday tea for my fiftieth birthday. I was so overjoyed at having survived ovarian cancer, that I wanted this birthday to be a special celebration. I wanted to celebrate with the women and girls who have been a part of my life. I left the details up to my sisters, Gayle and Brenda, knowing they would have some good ideas.

As the day grew closer I started to worry about where Gayle was going to put all the women if it rained, so I hoped and prayed for good weather. The other worry was what she was going to do with her large dog. When I inquired about the dog I was told not to worry and "Don't ask any questions".
My mom and daughter Joy went on ahead to help Gayle and Brenda set up and greet the guests. My husband Dan and I were to arrive at 2:15 PM, which would give the guests time to arrive before me. As we were driving south to Aurora, I questioned why we had not turned to go our usual way to Gayle's. Dan answered that we would go this other way so we would not arrive too early. I then said maybe we should not have left so soon.

Once we arrived in Aurora, Dan slowed the car and stopped in front of Hillary House and said I was to get out there. Hillary House is a Victorian home that is owned by the local historical society. There were yellow balloons lining the walkway, and two young women came out of the house to greet me. I walked in the door and Gayle called out to me "Come up here". I was overwhelmed with emotion when I entered the room and saw everyone sitting at tables. I started to cry and I exclaimed that I was glad that I had not worn mascara! I was so surprised; it was definitely more than I had even hoped or imagined!

There were four tables of friends, and relatives. My sisters-in-law, nieces, aunt and female cousins, along with our young great-nephew joined in the celebration. All sides of the family were represented, which was special since family is important to me. There were friends from my former church, St. Paul's Presbyterian in Nobleton; women who I had served alongside. Our children used to play together while we mothers shared our trials and triumphs of raising young children. Also there were friends from my present church, Bradford Baptist; women who have prayed with me and for me on my journey of overcoming ovarian cancer. There were other friends too, including someone I have known for over 30 years.

The tables were set with white tablecloths; matching china teacups and saucers; and glass plates. In the centre of each table was a small vase with two sunflowers, which are the symbol of Ovarian Cancer Canada. A small photo album was on each table, so the women could catch a glimpse of different seasons of my life, including my journey of overcoming ovarian cancer.
My mom introduced herself, my sisters Gayle and Brenda, and my daughter Joy; and then prayed a blessing on our food and time together. We started off with punch and dainty sandwiches, sweet pickles, celery sticks and fancy-cut carrot sticks.
Gayle asked for the ladies' attention while she, Joy and Brenda shared some tea related thoughts. My sisters then shared how different teas reflect my qualities or quirks:
" Country peach passion: The name itself brings to mind your passion for God that keeps ripening. Your faith through the last 2 years especially is an inspiration to us."
"Wild Raspberry: A lightly sweet and fragrant wild raspberry tea, your life is a sweet blend of family, church, community, friends and personal time."
"Green tea: Simply 100% pure and green tea, you find refreshment in simple and pure experiences such as baking, homemaking, writing and dancing."
"Mint refresher" a cool, invigorating beverage... like this tea, you embraced the idea of getting fit through invigorating walks and workouts at Curves"
"Earl Grey: a favourite in North America and Britain...Debbie likes Pride and Prejudice (the movie and the book) so much she must have a higher content of British blood in her than the rest of us!"
"Orange Pekoe: Tetley, there's nothing quite like it...Debbie, there's no one quite like you!"

The tea theme continued with a "Fabulous Fifty" scrapbook containing teacup shaped memories, scriptures or words of encouragement that each of the ladies had filled out ahead of time. My sisters had also bought an ivory teapot that everyone signed with indelible ink.

I thanked the ladies for coming and expressed my joy of not only reaching this milestone but also of being healthy. Everyone clapped and I did too; it was an automatic response. I was so full of joy!

We then had our dessert of squares; mini butter tarts; and cookies, along with tea or coffee. I moved about from table to table visiting with as many people as I could. I was overwhelmed to have so many friends and loved ones in the same room, all there to celebrate my 50th birthday. This truly was a birthday to remember.
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