Saturday, January 24, 2015

Teatime Tale #4 - The Women's Ministry Committee Meeting for the 42nd Annual Spring Tea

The Women’s Ministry Committee Meeting
for the 42nd Annual Spring Tea

            Catholics, I am told, believe in the doctrine of Purgatory, an intermediate state after death where the heaven-bound undergo purification in order to achieve holiness before entering heaven. Southern Baptists have something similar, only we call it the Women’s Ministry Committee Meeting for the Annual Spring Tea.
            Starla Mooneyham has called the meeting this fine Saturday morning in January so we can decide on the menu for our 42nd Annual Spring Tea. The Spring Tea is second in importance only to the Second Coming at my church. Women pull out their best china and set a table in springtime pastels. We're supposed to do this because we love the Lord and want to reach The Unchurched, but the truth of the matter is that some women—looking at you, Eloise Wilson—like to show off their table-setting skills and family linens.
            Starla knows that I, Brenda Johnson, am the president of the local tea society, so I'm sure that's why she invited me to be on the committee again. Ten of us were asked to prepare a tray of our favorite tea sandwiches, and today we'll choose five of them to serve at the Spring Tea.
            Now I didn't have to think twice about what to make. Friends always rave about my Waldorf Chicken Salad on Mini Croissants, so I whipped up a bowl of chicken salad last night and made the sandwiches this morning. I don't like to brag, but I've basically perfected this recipe, so I’m sure it’ll be chosen. I almost feel sorry for the other ladies since not all of us can have our sandwiches selected, but what can I say? I've been making tea sandwiches a long time. I will not apologize for that.

            Starla calls the meeting to order and asks Ann Simpson to pray. I wish she had called on someone else. Ann believes in informational praying, the kind where the pray-er feels that she has to give God a news update on the pray-ee. "And Lord, we ask you to be with Carolyn, because she couldn’t be here today since her sinuses are acting up again. Dear Lord, we just thank You that You can solve her sinus problems and work on that unspoken marital need of hers all at once, dear Lord." After what seems like an eternity, Ann decides to wind things up, and we all gather round to sample tea sandwiches.
            I don’t eat one of my own sandwiches, of course, because that would be tacky. Instead, I double up on Mary Lou Carter's pimiento cheese sandwiches. Mary Lou can hardly boil water, bless her heart, and you do not want that woman making a thing for the fall bake sale. I’ll tell you that right now. But Mary Lou makes the best pimiento cheese of all of us, a fact I find no less miraculous than Jesus turning the water into wine.
            Marcia Brown brought some cucumber sandwiches she cut out with a cute little flower-shaped cookie cutter. They taste fine, but a plain old cucumber and cream cheese sandwich isn't very imaginative, in my humble opinion.
            Starla offered to make the tea for our sandwich tasting, which I knew meant she’d bring some off-brand from the dollar store. I cannot seem to convince these women of the importance of using quality loose-leaf tea. Starla wouldn't know quality tea if it jumped out of the tea tin and slapped her upside the head, but she's the one leading the ladies this year, so I don't say anything. As usual, I just keep my opinions to myself.

            After about thirty minutes, we're all through eating sandwiches. Ann notes that the group has always voted on the sandwiches by secret ballot. Starla, however, wants us to discuss our favorites openly and agree on the selections. That suits me fine, but I don't know how some of the ladies will take it when theirs aren't chosen.
            I am not at all surprised when Starla points to the tray with my sandwiches—or what used to be my sandwiches, since only one is left. I'm accustomed to this. She picks it up and says, "These tasted great, but they’re a bit large for the luncheon plates. We'd probably need to cut them in half, and I'm sure Brenda would rather we not do that. So thanks for bringing these, but I think we need to go with some smaller sandwiches."
            To say that I am stunned is an understatement. Does Starla not understand that women love my Waldorf Chicken Salad Mini Croissants? Is she unaware that my recipe once appeared in Southern Lady magazine? Where does she get off saying my mini croissants are too big, anyway? Who died and made her the tea sandwich queen?
            "Brenda, do you agree?"
            I quickly realize I’ve missed something. "Sorry. I was busy thinking about what I'm cooking for Sunday dinner tomorrow. Could you repeat that?"
            "We just wanted to see if you like Marcia's cucumber sandwiches as much as everyone else does. They seem to be the favorites."
            "Yes, they’re very good," I say, forcing a smile. Very good if you don't mind a boring, overused, underimagined tea sandwich that looks like a third grader assembled it.
            "Great," says Starla. She adds cucumber sandwiches to the list that also includes Mary Lou’s pimiento cheese sandwiches, Starla’s own egg salad triangles—which I personally find a little low-rent for teatime, but I don’t say anything—and two sliced fruit sandwiches, apple and strawberry, that just happen to have been made by Starla’s two best friends. Nobody ever serves two fruit sandwiches at a tea.
            But I don’t care. Like I say, I always keep my opinions to myself. If these women want to behave like a bunch of teatime amateurs, why should I care?
            I’ve been thinking of becoming a Methodist anyway. I wonder if they have a Spring Tea?


  1. I laughed all the way through this story. I KNOW ladies like this! Fun!

  2. This gave me a giggle! I imagined a lot of Aunt Bea's friends from her ladies' circle.

  3. Thanks for giggle, Angela. Enjoy your weekend.

  4. Oh my gosh, this one is funny Angela and I think we all know someone like the sandwich queen! LOL
    And I know for a fact that there is competition in food preparation between different churches. The local Catholic church was in charge of a huge community event that our Anglican church was assisting with years ago. I sat across from our minister who was quite dejected at being told more than once that the Anglicans were not slicing the tomatoes as thinly and straight as they should be. Boy did we laugh about that many times later.
    I look forward to the weekend - your Tea Tale on Saturday and Downton Abbey on Sunday! Thanks for sharing your stories.

  5. Well, I declare! I was at that meeting, too. Oh, wait, wrong meeting. I was at a very similar meeting with my own Southern Baptist tea planning committee.

  6. This short story made me laugh out loud. It needs to be read at the beginning of every church's annual spring tea planning meeting. What a fun way to get a message across. LOVE your short Saturday morning tea time tales!

  7. What a hoot! You know that is exactly how it goes, I have been there. I guess you could call me Eloise Wilson!

  8. Hilarious, Angela! Great observations - I was laughing out loud. Brings back memories of Dana Carvey's 'Church Lady' character on Saturday Night Live* *('isn't that Special?'). Great series! Here's wishing you a wonderful weekend, Joanie

  9. You nailed it yet again. My gracious, girl, you certainly did make us laugh! Still grinning! So cute!

  10. Such a cute story! I was smiling the whole way through!

  11. Oh, Angela! What humor in this story. I just love it.

  12. Haha! I am a Methodist but I can sure see some "been there and done that" in this cute story! Love it.

  13. So true! I was picturing the ladies - and know them so well! Hahah! Thanks for a funny Saturday story.

  14. Angela, what a fun story! I'm still laughing. I could see the sandwich selection coming and the end was an unexpected belly laugh. Your book is going to be a hit! We're all planning to buy it. :)

  15. Angela, this is so funny. Not only did it give me laughs, it was educational for me, too. I was raised Catholic and did not know this about the Baptists of whom I have many friends back in the Midwest where I am from. I am now a non-denominational minister and do not have a church at this time. Should I ever have a church I will have to consult you about having a tea. Angela, you are the best and I enjoy your blog so much. Blessings

  16. What a riot! I laughed out loud throughout the tale! I do hope you are writing a book. I would buy it in a heart-beat!

  17. I read the first sentence and almost choked on my tea. Oh my goodness - this was wonderful!

  18. Very good! Had to read it to my husband, he liked it too. Keep writing.


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