Grandma used to make tea for Grandad most afternoons. I remember her boiling the water and bringing him his cup and saucer on the living room couch. There is just something so comforting (and so British!) about afternoon tea. So to honor Grandma’s passing on July 10, 2019, we decided to have a small gathering of friends and family and serve afternoon tea. The family couldn’t all convene in Texas until around Christmas so we set the date for December 27, 2019.
We all had dinner out at Gianna Italian Kitchen in Tomball the night before, which thinking about it now seems like such a distant and wonderful thing to be able to do. I haven’t seen my extended family since then. It was so nice to all be around one table together, and the cherry on top was Colin and Hailey, the two great-grandchildren who are about a year apart, meeting for the first time.
The day of the tea we all did our best to channel the Queen or at least to imitate British tea party attire, complete with brightly colored hats. I wore a pair of Grandma’s old clip-on earrings (she had her ears pierced but for some reason she often wore clip-ons), a necklace Grandad had given her as a gift that she later gave to me, and the bright pink hat I wore on Hat Day at my college graduation. Donna looked regal with her fur hat, brooch, and shawl. Nick and Nigel each wore one of Grandad’s old ascots and David had on a classy bow-tie. Grandma’s Christmas carolers were up on the mantel and pictures and memorabilia were placed around the room. A wonderful slideshow of pictures of Grandma put together by my sister played on the big screen. My mom had put out an amazing spread of food including shortbread, clotted cream, jam, scones, brownies, macarons, mince meat pie, cheese, finger sandwiches, and of course a wide variety of teas.
The service started with the hymn, All Things Bright and Beautiful, which Grandma had picked out many years ago. It really is a beautiful hymn which celebrates “all creatures great and small” including “each little flower that opens, each little bird that sings .. the purple-headed mountain, the river running by, the sunset and the morning, that brightens up the sky, the cold wind in the winter, the pleasant summer sun, the ripe fruits in the garden,” which come to think of it, really is perfect for Grandma. She always appreciated the little beauties in life. The day to day things that really are miraculous when you think about them. I think she passed this on to my mom who passed it on to me and my sister. I’m getting a bit off track here, but this may be an important part of Grandma’s legacy. This hymn and thinking of this concept of appreciating the little every day miracles in life reminds me of another quote I got from my mom. It’s from The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents by William Martin: “Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives. Such striving may seem admirable, but it is the way of foolishness. Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life. Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples and pears. Show them how to cry when pets and people die. Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand. And make the ordinary come alive for them. The extraordinary will take care of itself.” Especially during this pandemic, appreciating and celebrating the little things with my son has become so essential.
The rest of the short and simple service included words of welcome and remembrance by Nigel and Nick, followed by Donna leading us in the Lord’s Prayer, and closing by listening to There Will Always Be an England. “There’ll always be an England, And England shall be free, If England means as much to you, As England means to me.”
Afterwards we all did Christmas crackers, as we do every Christmas, and wore our crowns the rest of the day. My husband John put together some games for us all to play including Family Feud and Glover-themed trivia. We ended the night with a rousing re-match of The Bowl Game with everyone’s favorite duo, Rosie and Nick. If you were there, you know what I mean. Sorry Rosie and Nick.
Grandma, we miss you and love you and think of you every day. My daffodils just started blooming, and I’m sure you would’ve loved to know about that as much as I’d have loved to share it with you.
If you want to share other memories from the day or of Grandma, feel free to do so in the Comments below.