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It was an evening full of traditions at the 30th Annual Women’s Holiday Tea.
Originally scheduled for the Sunday before, the event was postponed, for the first time in thirty years, due to weather. However, the new date did not deter women of all ages from attending.
From two-month-old Konnor Finch to her great grandmother, 96-year-old Helen Wanz, more than 85 women attended the event, causing the group to add another table last-minute as more women filled the St. Peter’s Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall in Orchard.
“Our main goal is to kick off the holiday season with Christmas cheer and reminding everyone that Jesus is the reason of the season, while giving back to the community,” said Ashley Hauf, one of the members of Eve’s Girls.
“Every year, the event continues to grow. So many women from our community look forward to this night. We hope that women leave the tea with raised spirits ready to take on the holiday season,” Hauf said.
This year marked the fifth year that the Eve’s Girls group took over the Holiday Tea from the Daughters of Eve group who started the tea 30 years ago.
An Evening of Tradition
“The tea has become a tradition for some of those who attended 25-30 years ago, and now they are sharing it with their granddaughters and even great-granddaughters,” said Lynae Stelling, a member of the Daughters of Eve group.
The evening started with prayer and a meal, which included the Chinese chili that the Daughters of Eve group are known for.
“We wanted to serve that same recipe to our guests,” Hauf said.
Another tradition that was present during the evening was musical selections from the Heiss girls, Janice Mosel, Shari Ickes, Connie Mitteis and Lynae Stelling.
Eve’s Girls also brought the living Christmas card back the event, in which Hauf’s niece Desirae was behind a curtain acting as Hauf’s hands.
Among the decorations at the event was a pallet tree displaying each years’ homemade ornaments.
“I hope these ornaments spark some memories from the past teas for you,” Kalee Michaelson, a member of Eve’s Girls, said at the event.
“Every year when I see or hang past ornaments, it reminds me of past teas and all the beauty that comes with each night,” Hauf said.
“I think a lot of women were overwhelmed with past memories of joy from the teas that they have attended.” said Hauf.
This year’s ornament featured traditional Christmas colors or red and green and a pearl - the traditional 30th anniversary gift.
Eve’s Girls are also bringing back the tradition of printing a cookbook.
“The Daughters of Eve printed a cookbook many years ago that included recipes from women of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church,” Hauf said. “Eve’s Girls are in the process of collecting recipes from all community members of any gender or age.”
It has also been a tradition to end the event by singing “Silent Night”, which is Eve’s Girls member Desirae Schwager’s favorite tradition.
“We all have traditions in our families that we hold dear to our hearts, and it gives me warm fuzzies to see them get passed down from generation to generation, like this holiday tea was passed down to us,” Hauf said during the event. “Hopefully someday, we can pass it down to our daughters.”
The Daughters of Eve
Thirty years ago, Janice Mosel started the Daughters of Eve group, a group of young women from St. Peter Lutheran Church. The DOE started hosting the Holiday Tea every year on the first Monday in December.
Although Mosel moved away from the area in 1997, the group continued the Holiday Tea tradition.
“The first year, we invited every lady in the community through a phone call and asked them to bring a Christmas ornament for an ornament exchange,” Lynae Stelling, DOE member, said.
“After that, we started the tradition of making an ornament for the women to take home. I know they have become a collection for some women who have attended a lot of the teas,” Stelling continued.
In about 2011, the DOE started considering the tea coming to an end and decided to end the annual tradition after the 25th event.
“We put the word out that the DOE would love to ‘pass it on’ to another group or church in the community, as we hated to see it end,” Stelling said. “The next year, the younger generation of St. Peter ladies took it on and now have done it for five years. Us older ladies were and are very, very pleased to see it continue.”
“When they (the Daughters of Eve) decided to stop putting it on, Ashley and I decided we didn’t want it to end, so we asked from help from some friends and made it happen,” Schwager said. “The same eight of us have been meeting and putting it on for the last few years. This is the first year we’ve given ourselves a name.”
Eve’s Girls were pleased to have event founder, Mosel, attend the event this year.
“She lives out of state now, so it’s difficult for her to make it,” Hauf said. “She not only attended, but also performed with her sisters, which is one of our favorite musical acts.”
Preparing for the Event
From the theme and decorations to the meal and entertainment, a lot goes into preparing for the Holiday Tea.
“We always had to come up with a theme and color scheme,” Stelling explained. “Some years that was easier than others...Then there was the question of what soup to have, what color the tablecloths should be and what we should use for table decorations.”
Stelling explained that oftentimes, the DOE group would get together before the event to make over one hundred ornaments.
This year, Hauf explained that since it was all about traditions, “there wasn’t a lot of prep to do.”
“We actually picked this theme while meeting and planning last year’s holiday tea,” Schwager said. “Then, we keep our eyes open for ideas all year on Pinterest or in stores of wherever. We had a meeting as a whole group around the end of October or beginning of November to get plans nailed down - who’s cooking what, who’s purchasing or bringing what for decor, etc. The of course, we make the ornaments, prepare the food and get together to decorate.”
“It’s very easy to get caught up in the shopping and presents and all of the running around and stress of the holiday season that we tend to forget to sit back and remember it’s about celebrating the birth of our savior Jesus Christ,” Schwager said. “The holiday tea is just a beautiful way to let us all come together and take the time to reflect on this.”
Hauf considers the event a success. “Celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ with food, fellowship and friends is always a success in my book.”