Author: Kandice Cruz
Title: Christmas Tea
Type of Work: story
Source: CMv1 #51
© Copyright 2002 Kandice Cruz
This story is about another family tradition that had been passed down from generation
to generation on my Father's side of the family this time instead of my Mother's side.
My biological father was 100% pure cajun. Both sides of his family where cajun as well. For those that don't know what Cajun is, it is a sect of people that live in the southern swamp areas of Louisiana. They imigrated to that area from Canada many many years ago. Thus being the tradition on his side of the family, all us kids called his parents Grand-Mierre and Grand-Pierre, Cajuns talk in a mix of French and English.
Every christmas we would make the journey from the panhandle of Texas to the tiny town of World's End Louisiana which is located near Challamette Louisiana and the site of the Battle of New Orleans. Once in World's End, we would leave the van at my father's Uncle Eugene's house and pile into piroughs to go into the swamp to Grand-Meirre's house. There where no roads to get to the house and to travel by pirough (which is a small boat) was the only way to get to the house where my father was born.
While we where there, all of my father's brothers and sisters would arrive with their children. On Christmas afternoons, all the men would go off hunting in the swamp and also to go visit more uncles. Grand-Mierre would take us girls up to the attic where there where trunks upon trunks of old timey clothing. Wonderful old hats, beautiful leather purses and other items that we would all dress ourselves in.
Once all us girls transformed ourselves into "Ladies," we would all go back downstairs where the Aunts had prepared the table with teas of all kinds and of course wonderful cookies. We would then all gather around the table and each lady had to say what they where most thankful for this past year. After each one had their turn of praising their thankfulness, the cookie plate would be passed to the youngest girls first and then it would be passed to each one of us according to age. Since I was the last girl born into that side of the family, I always got the cookie plate first. My favorite cookies where the Chocolate Chip that Grand-Mierre would make.
I remember when I was about 7 years of age, the cookie plate got passed to me first and I had trouble holding it since it was loaded down with so many cookies and I dropped the plate.
The plate shattered and cookies where all over the floor. I started to cry. I knew that Grand-Mierre would be mad at me and would probably spank me for it, but instead I heard laughter comming from Grand-Mierre. She gathered me into her arms, dried my eyes with the end of the stole I was wearing and told me, "Mon Cierrie, Don't cry, it's only cookies." Through my tears I managed to tell her I was sorry for breaking what I thought was her favorite plate and ruining the Tea Party. Grand-Mierre then told me to go to the buffet and to open the cabinet door. I did as I was told and in that beautiful old buffet was more plates that looked exactly like the one I had just dropped and broke. Grand-Mierre then said "Child, we all have things that are treasured but the best treasure of all is family."
After that, Grand-Mierre and I went out to the pantry to retrieve more cookies and then she helped me to pass the plate to my older cousin Joy Elaine. The rest of that afternoon, I occupied the place of honor atop my Grand-Mierre's knee.
Later that night as all the children where being tucked into our pallets to go to bed, Joy Elaine and another cousin, Melanie looked at me and they both told me that no other grand-daughter got to sit on Grand-Mierre's knee during Tea Party time. They then told me that next year they where going to drop the plate to see if they to can site atop Grand-Mierre's knee during Tea Time.
The next day was the day that traditionally our family would go back to Texas. Before we left Grand-Mierre's house, she came out to the pirough before we shoved off and she leaned over and gave me a kiss on my cheek and handed me a box and told me to not open it until we got back to the van and to never tell any of my other girl cousins what was in that box.
I did as I was told and when I opened that box, it was the prettiest broach I had ever seen, it was in the shape of a cookie made out of gold and black onyx as the chocolate chips and with the broach was a note that said "Family is the best treasure of all."
I still have that broach to this day, I don't wear it but rather I keep it in my jewlery box and I plan on giving to Alexis for her to wear when she goes to her first Prom.