It was two weeks before Christmas, when I decided to host (at my house) the ladies of my church for a Christmas luncheon. Oh, it was several years ago but I mean I did it up right.

I served stuffed Manicotti with spicy carrot salad and green bean bundles, plus a Christmas fruit salad. And just to make it special, I made my Granny’s wonderful bread pudding recipe. Yes, I had more energy then.

And I really did want the ladies to have a super/great time and also admire my new dishes. You see my mother had gifted me an early Christmas gift. It was a set for eight of the popular Desert Rose pattern, all beautiful with pink flowers (the desert rose, of course).

To make the lunch even more spectacular, I pulled out the hand-crocheted tablecloth, which had belonged to an aunt, and then placed an elegant runner down the center of the table. As I placed each dish carefully in its place upon the table, I imagined what a magnificent time the girls and I would have, just chatting and conversing about important stuff as we smacked down Granny’s special dessert.

Two of the ladies had never visited my home and were interested in the décor. Well perhaps interested puts it mildly. One of these two couldn’t keep her mouth shut.

Tsk, Tsk, shame on me but let me explain.

A few years before this time, Hubs built my dream house. It was from a plan I found in House Beautiful. I had cut it out of the magazine and actually slept with it under my pillow for two years, just a wishing and hoping. I still have that magazine article today, but I finally took it out from under my pillow, after we moved into the place.

The house, where we still live today, is a little unusual. It is built of red cedar, has loads of glass and steps. In the magazine the style was called a California Ranch. Yes, we were younger then. Sort of as a crazy idea, we decided to finish the inside with red cedar, too.

But then a few years later, my Desert Rose dishes arrived and to me, the red cedar in the dining room did not work any longer. Inspired by my dishes, I painted it pink, Pepto Bismol pink, to be exact, identical to the same pink as shown brightly upon my new china.

Just before my guests arrived, I had stood admiringly at the door of my dining room. What a difference the new pink paint had made, especially with my new dishes on display. Then the doorbell chimed.

I practically skipped to the door. “Come in, please,” I sang out.

“Please take your places.” I had cleverly made Pepto Bismol pink place markers. As each lady read the marker to find her place, I did not notice a look of aghast upon Miss Thursalene’s face. If I had noticed, perhaps I would have given her CPR or at least the Heimlich maneuver. I mean something was bad wrong.

But it was just a moment in time, I thought. Lunch proceeded with great joy and laughter plus Miss Thursalene cleaned her plate, and also had seconds of the bread pudding. Yes, all was well but I did notice a slight quiver of the eye as she took her leaving.

I never thought of it again until Sunday morning.

As I pranced into church with a big smile on my face knowing my Christmas luncheon would be the “talk” of coffee time, which took place just before Sunday School, I noticed Miss T as she stood in the center of those ladies who had attended the luncheon and she certainly had their attention.

As I approached, I heard Miss T declare as she dramatically held up her arms, “And the walls were painted pink!”

I immediately figured out the conversation and answered, “Miss Thursalene, that was my house.”

Not skipping a beat, she added, “And it looked real good.”

Then I surprised myself (I am usually not this quick.), when I asked the question. “And what did you think of the bread pudding?”

Anne B McKee is a Mississippi historian, writer and storyteller. She is listed on the Mississippi Humanities Speakers Bureau and Mississippi Arts Commission’s Performing Artist and Teaching Artist Rosters. See her web site: www.annemckeestoryteller.com.

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