In the small Southern town where I grew up in the 50's, it was customary for women to put on a “tea.” These teas were to honor one of the young women in the town who was soon to be married.
A group of three women who were best friends entertained together: Miss Virginia, Miss Sara, and Allene, my mother.
They would plan in advance…sometimes on the phone, occasionally in person. The parties were elaborate.
My mother and her friends were not sophisticated or wealthy.
But they knew how to put on a “tea”. The silver platters were polished and ready beforehand, along with the silver coffee pots, sterling silverware, bone china, and freshly starched linen napkins. Fresh flowers from their own yards and tasty morsels were always featured.
My younger sister and I were designated servers. I’m guessing I was 9 when I became a part of the tea party scene. What I remember is that we had detailed instructions as we learned to be a server. I think these teas helped me master the art of Southern graciousness.
Miss Virginia, Miss Sara, and Mother were typical Southern women of their generation from a small town in Georgia.
They were strong, hardworking, outgoing, and their families and children came first followed closely by their churches. If there was time left in their busy schedules they participated in the garden club.
They didn’t gossip, they were never unkind, and they tried to make the teas beautiful and fun for the bride and her mother and friends.
As far as I know, my mother and Miss Sara, and Miss Virginia never talked about their personal lives with each other. In the South, you didn’t talk about your challenges or problems with others. No one really knew that your husband might be an alcoholic or that you might be unhappy in your marriage or your child was giving you fits.
Even though they weren’t close in this way, these women were the kind of friends who were there for each other in good and bad times.
When my father died after being in a coma for 14 days in a distant hospital, we drove home, shell shocked, exhausted, grieving. To our surprise, when we walked into our home at midnight, there they were: Miss Virginia and Miss Sara. They were there to greet us with open arms; warming us with their hugs and condolences and coffee. The memory of that moment was so unexpected and powerful. I will never forget how touched I was.
Today, I am privileged to work with women, encouraging them to talk about whatever is in their hearts and to support each other. I gather women and lead them on retreats. I guide them to talk about their dreams and the things they want to do and have and be. And I help them give themselves permission to do what they want and to trust themselves.
I know that today, as in the 1950s, women are nurturing and stand by each other. I have seen this demonstrated over and over again in my own life. I will always remember how my dear friends stood beside me when I was going through a divorce on a small island so many years ago.
And today I have friends that I know hold me in their hearts and support me in all kinds of ways. I have sisters who would do anything for me, as I would for them.
Women need each other and thrive when they support each other. Research backs this up.
Things to ask yourself today:
Who are your women friends?
How do you support each other?
When do you need them the most?
Reach out to one of them today and let her know how grateful you are she’s in your life.
Fall is a time for us to slow down, to ground ourselves and to nourish our bodies. This retreat is designed to help you stop and listen to what it is you need right now. It's a fun and restorative weekend with mindfulness exercises, morning yoga, an online cooking class with the fabulous Chef Bai, healthy recipes to try at home, meditations and group calls to connect you with other women.