‘Teas on the table’

What I expected was drawn from limited exposure to life, the cinema gave me the romantic image, at home gave me the way to a man’s heart is from the meals served at ‘tea time’. I occasionally absorbed how other people were together in their homes when I visited or how people behaved around me. Well, the meals didn’t vary much -meat and three vege, stewed fruit and custard.
Every afternoon my mother would sometimes have a bath but always change her clothes. In summertime, before dailight saving had been invented it was at 4.30 and in winter 3.30. This was the signal that she would prepare ‘tea’, the evening meal. Many, Many years later this title was changed to ‘dinner’.
A more elegant word.
She changed into her ‘good’ house clothes, always a dress, never pants, she didn’t own any. She had, maybe, two sets of each category of clothes – housework, good and going out. There was a set for summer and winter.
It was my job to set the table and when my mother called ‘Teas on the table’ my father would appear, sit at the head of the table, and say ‘thanks Emily’. After he’d picked up his knife and fork we could all start. He would probably tell me to sit up straight or use the handle of my knife and fork – usually both every meal.
There were snippets of conversation between my mother and father. Housekeeping issues – things to be fixed or my father telling what was to be done the following day.
I’d clear the table, put the dishes in the sink and wait for my mother to wash up, I’d dry the dishes and put them in the cupbpoard.
The radio was turned on after the table was cleared and my father read the paper and listened to the market report for the price of wool, lamb, beef and vegetables.
We all sat round the table, the gathering place of the house, if we were not in the kitchen we were in bed.
My mother would knit or sew, mending whatever needed attention and I would listen to the radio.
Bedtime was early for everyone, we must have spent over ten hours in bed everynight. I didn’t have any books, when I went to bed the light wes turned out.
I did expect more than this – as I grew up things were more relaxed, I was a constant chatterer in my teens and was not silenced easily, realying every moment of my daily life each evening.
I expected to be a perfect housewife, always look beautiful, wait on my husband and had no expectation that he would lift a finger to help me in the house. I expected he would mow the lawn and fix whatever needed attention.
Emotionally I had no expectation apart from the instinctive emotions boiling inside me.
My expectation was to laugh and be happy – it was all going to be fun.

“Life wasn’t meant to be easy, my child, but take courage, it can be delightful”
George Bernard Shaw