Fire! Fire!

Whenever we put on holiday gatherings and weddings we always hope everything goes perfect. But if you think about it, the ones where something goes wrong are those that go down in history for us. The perfect ones no one mentions. If nothing goes wrong all we can say is “we got married” or “we put on a Christmas Tea.”

Several years ago my mother-in-love and I hosted a table at our church’s “Holly Day Tea.” Thus named for our pastor’s wife Holly. We actually hosted a table every year for nearly 16 years but one particular one lives in infamy.  It is the one we always come back to when recounting our decade and a half of hostessing.

For eleven months we planned our table. We took great pains to make it beautiful. You see, at our teas everyone that hosted a table brought their Christmas finery from home. The white table cloth provided for us by our church made the table into a blank artist’s palate.

One year we did a teddy bear theme and gave each guest at our table a tiny teddy bear with moveable arms holding a little sign we made commemorating the year and the tea. One year we used Muff’s collection of Tea Leaf dishes from the 1800s. Very cool. That year we gave little containers of tea that matched the guilt of the dishes perfectly. We spent hours planning every detail. It was so fun to find the perfect little keepsake in July at some close out sale as that is how we did it. Very frugal we two.

We really enjoyed doing it together. It was a hoot to sit and plan the next year’s table. In January or February when things are slow and we had time, we would choose the dishes then spend the rest of the year in search for the perfect centerpiece and ten little gifts to give our guests. I always bought the tickets for our table and invited friends that I thought might attend a church function but not go to an actual church service. It was my birthday present to JESUS. Fun outreach.

One year we used Dave’s Grandmother’s Franciscan Apple Dishes. They were beautiful. For a center piece we used the apple dish tower serving plates with exotic chocolates from some distant land and flowers. Of course we always had candles. Ahh candles, don’t they just set the mood. Don’t they just make the ambiance so soothing and Christmassy?

Well they usually do. That year one of the candles happened to be right near me. (Never a good idea.) We ate the delicious food that Peggy Browne always coordinated so perfectly. The lights dimmed and we settled back to watch the entertainment. The candles on the tables twinkled and just shouted MERRY CHRISTMAS.

A few minutes into the program, much to my chagrin, my whole water glass was thrown at the table dousing me and the chocolates as well as the napkin inferno.  Hysterical laughter surrounded me. Seems when I set my napkin on the table it was a bit too close to the flame and in a minute or two ignited and went up in a blaze. Since my back was to the table watching the harpist I was oblivious.  UGH!

Now every time the subject of the Holly Day Tea comes up with ANYONE that attended, they always laugh hysterically and recount the table that went up in smoke. We’re talking a decade later.

So many life lessons in that for me; never turn your back on a flame, no matter how small. I’m thinking that applies to life too. If we ignore little flames instead of dealing with them when they are small and easy to snuff out they often become blazing infernos that are much more difficult to extinguish.

Another lesson is that sometimes the things that we consider disasters we laugh about later. I often catch myself saying to someone, “We will laugh about this someday.” (I have teen aged boys).  If we can just keep things in perspective then we can stay sane, maybe even calm in a crisis.

I used to make wedding cakes for hire. Now I just do it for friends. I could tell you some hysterical wedding stories and I always tell the brides to hope something goes wrong. Nothing dire or disastrous of course, but you’ve got to have a story. Otherwise all you can say is “We got married.” How boring is that?

Merry Christmas and remember…we will laugh about this someday! :0)


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