I haven't written since my Talk Like a Pirate Day newsletter and I have missed connecting with you! I so appreciate everyone who sent emails checking in. Though it has been hard not to host any tea events this year, the pandemic has afforded me the time to focus on family. I think you will see why I count that a tender blessing.
Cancer Surgery~ It is with much relief that I can share my dad's successful recovery from cancer surgery. It was touch-and-go for a while, but he pulled through. The doctors believe they caught it in time. My sister Ruth, her boy Bradley and I helped with post-surgery recovery. (Negative covid tests in hand). This picture was taken a week after Dad got out of the hospital. We are all very grateful for modern medicine.
While we were in Kanab, Mom set up her Christmas tree that is just the right size for 'two little old people' (her own words.)
Their tree topper is Santa on a four-wheeler. For those of you who follow my newsletters, you know that my folks love to trundle out in the wild red-rock country of Southern Utah in their side-by-side ATV. If you look closely, you will see pictures of my folks in their younger years. They are both still young at heart. The body seems to slow things down a bit over time.
Another Little Baby Girl ~
My most-read newsletter to date announced the arrival of my first grandbaby last July. Well, Im happy to share that little Eva has a new cousin! (Same age but once removed.)
Remember last Christmas' newsletter about visiting my younger brother? Well, Clay and Kaitlyn added a beautiful little girl to their family in September and invited me to help out for a week! (With a negative Covid test of course) It still warms my heart thinking about my time there. Isla is such a beautiful and good-natured baby and Clay and Kaitlyn are amazing parents.
Little Larson is growing and is such a fun kid! This picture is from 'Popsicle time.' It is a post-nap family tradition that wards off the 'grouchies' and it works! What wonderful afternoons we spent together on the front porch, the sun streaming through the trees, munching on popsicles. The aura of it all makes me think that I must surely serve popsicles with tea!
One of the things I loved about being with Clay and Kaitlyn for a week is that they let me do some yard work. Larson was my little helper for everything except cleaning the roof and gutters. I relished my time in their home, and missed all of them terribly once I returned to Willowbrook.
There is something so lovely when a new baby comes into your life. It touches the tender places in your soul and weaves a connection that is yummy-sweet.
That is why the Christmas story is so very beautiful to me. A babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger somehow makes hearts a little larger, and love a little stronger.
Willowbrook Christmas 2020 ~
Christmas eve at Willowbrook was a family treat as we decorated the tree with all of the kids' home-made ornaments from years past. My youngest son, Jens, read the Christmas story, then I let the kids open one present. It was a box full of mini indoor flying drones. Aliece and Paityn took a couple outside and ended up with rubber boots full of water as they tried to fetch the runaway drone that flew over the creek and into the woods.
The gift giving was very thoughtful and even sentimental. Addy practiced the Japanese art tradition of Furoshiki, where gifts are wrapped in fabric. She chose yardage that was her great-grandmother's and finished the edges so they can be used as tea towels. Part of her gift to me included little origami-like envelopes with poppy seeds harvested from her flower garden. Im so anxious to plant them! I look forward to Christmas in July when the Addy-poppies are blooming!
Aliece gifted custom-made candle holders made from driftwood she gathered from Southern California beaches. She drilled holes for the candles and polished the wood. Each one is a beautiful work of art.
Kjaisa (doing the JC Penny pose) created masterpieces on shirts and ceramics for everyone. It is really fun to watch her time-lapse videos of making them on Instagram @kjaisapaints or online at www.kjaisapaints.com . This is the one she gave to her older sister Addy.
My mother gave family heirlooms to everyone along with the history of each item.
These are just a few of the thoughtful gifts that were unwrapped on Christmas morning.
Five of my six kids came to home to celebrate the holiday. (Derrill, Caitlin and Eva were with us digitally.) My brother James joined us as well as my sister Debbie. It made for a wonderful day! We took our masks off for a quick pic.
I honestly don't know how to adequately write the feelings I have when the kids come home. The walls of Willowbrook were built for them, and I love it when they fill the place with their personalities, their music, laughter, and clutter. We consume endless pots of delicious tea!
Teacup Time ~
I asked my sister Ruth to share her favorite teacup story with me when we were taking care of our dad. Here is her story:
Two Tea Cups
When I was a little girl, probably six years old, my grandmother Lucy gave me a porcelain tea set. She told me I could pick the pattern to have painted on it, but being an indecisive child, I was afraid to pick a pattern I might not like later on. I decided to just have the set fired with a white glaze. I still remember the day we went to pick it up from the ceramic shop. That little tea set got a lot of use during my childhood. My best friend, Wendi, would come for sleepovers, and we would have tea parties every time. Sometimes we had peppermint tea, but often we made chicken broth from bullion cubes. We thought we were such proper little ladies! What wonderful memories!
Now that we are grown we still have tea parties, along with our best friends, Stacie and Cara. This year, Wendi sent each of us a special teacup. It was like an early Christmas present!
When the package came, I carefully unwrapped the tea cup and saucer and found with them, a tiny spoon. Wendi's note explained that she chose this daffodil cup for me because the daffodils are a hardy flower that emerge first in the early spring, often pushing up through the last of the snow. Year after year, the daffys bloom, heralding the end of winter and the coming spring. They are consistent, just like our friendship. No matter the time or distance that separates us, Wendi and I push through life, sharing our struggles, dreams and successes.
On a gray day, like today, I sit with my daffodil cup filled with hot tea and reminisce about those tea parties we had as little girls. The tea warm me and my heart fills with gratitude for the memory of a loving grandmother and the treasure of a best friend.
Many of you ask when I will reopen for tea events. The answer is that Tea and Tulips will happen this year, either indoors (if allowed) or outdoors in the heated tea tent. You can make your reservation here.(Reservations will be live online beginning Monday afternoon December 28th)
Please share this with your friends. My plan is to make Tea and Tulips 2021 an event to remember.
Thanks for Reading ~
That is it for this issue! I'm grateful you kept with me to the very end. Next newsletter look for a fun giveaway, AND an exciting announcement about Willowbrook's outreach plans for the coming year.
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Until next time!
I snuck in a little visit to see my sweet little granddaughter Eva~