Jenny, a friend of mine who runs the quilting store Rose Hall Quilts, is hosting a Biggest Morning Tea this Saturday - May 11 - to benefit the Australian Cancer Council.
Jenny has spent a whole year planning this event, and it is going to be one heck of a shindig. Originally it was intended simply as a get-together-with-a-cause for the quilters of the gulf region, with a silent auction of pretty cups and saucers and old fashioned silverware (culled from estate sales and thrift stores by her quilting minions over the past months) to raise money for the council.
And then, eight weeks ago, the morning tea exploded.
Arriving at her house for a sewing meet-up one Wednesday morning, I found her feverishly labeling books of raffle tickets, and looking seriously harassed.
"Tabubilgirl!" She bellowed. "It's mastatized! It's gone CRITICAL! The Biggest Morning Tea is now frigging ENORMOUS!"
I took the flyer that she thrust at me.
"It started when Lucy told me I had to have a plant stall. 'A PLANT stall?' I said. 'This is a morning TEA!' Then she told me how much money you can make from a plant stall in this town, and then she told me she'd run it, so all right, we have a plant stall. With pink ribbons on the pots. Then Chrissy asked if she could be in charge of the catering. I said 'Great!' and asked her if I could still contribute my boxes of Pink Ribbon Tim Tams - I LOVE Tim Tams dunked in coffee - and she got really SHIRTY and said 'NO. I'm talking about the baked goods stall!'
'The Baked GOODS stall?' I said. And she said 'YES!' And she told me how much money you make from a baked good stall in Australia, so fine, we have a aked goods stall. She can collect people to bake for her - so no worries. I said I'd do the coffee.
I asked her how much coffee and biscuits I should provide - I was thinking enough for 50 people - and she told me to cater for TWO HUNDRED!! Or THREE HUNDRED even!!!
And now we've got trading tables, with ladies sewing purses and knitting baby clothes like they're on fire, and we've got a quilt exhibition, which means I now have a pile of quilts insured for ten thousand dollars EACH sitting in my spare room, which makes me uncomfortable, I can tell you, and there's a raffle for a quilt and travel vouchers on the bus to Adelaide and, Oh, My God, I don't even know what else, with an ARMY of ticket sellers fanning out across the peninsula and my wholesale suppliers have been sending me the most amazing and expensive quilting supplies as donations to the cause and the whole thing is getting out of hand and I'm starting to panic.
I mean, it's only being held in my back yard!! Do you reckon we can get the pool hall and the BBQ shed and the shop shed and the granny flat cleared out in time? (editors note: in the Gulf region, people LOVE their sheds. You need at least three in your backyard to be taken seriously by anyone.) I've got 150 folding chairs and six portable gazebos on order, but maybe we need more space?
D'you think we can move the quilting exhibition out of the house and onto the verandah?! What if it rains?!?! Where will we plug in the pie-warmer?!?!?!?"
In summation, I will be baking. Lots of 'American style, please" cookies for the baked goods stall.
Cancer is the one really democratic charity. There's nothing political or geopolitical or squeam-inducing about it. It's as inoffensive and feel-good as the Make a Wish Foundation, without the faint overlay of 'this is not exactly a life-or-death donation' that keeps the Make a Wish Foundation out of the Really Serious leagues. (Although it does just fine financially - those same qualifications are what make it the PERFECT charity for university rush activism. There's not one prickly 18 year old activist who's going to make a fuss about raising money for dying kids.)
Everyone can get behind cancer, and my god, they certainly have. Jenny's suppliers are sending her hundreds of dollars worth of fabrics and threads and quilting templates as raffle prizes and local retailers and travel agencies have been getting into the act -
Saturday, May 7, 11 am, at 5 Woods Terrace, Whyalla, South Australia.
It's going to be quite the shindig.
If you're in town, please do drop by.