13 September 2010

Tea Parties Change Lives

This somewhat sensationalistic headline hearkens back to my roots in Boston. I couldn't resist! But, tea parties can be fun and perhaps even change lives. I remember liking them when I was a child but I wasn't sure my grandchildren, who live in the age of punchy video games and 3-D movies, would find this slow, simple activity fun as well.

Years ago, I bought a beautiful, China tea set with roses and gold gilding and brought it out in August for it's initiation while the grandchildren were here for their month long visit. OK, I'll fess up and admit that I bought the tea set in Maine before my granddaughter was even born, in the hopes that my daughter would have a little girl who would love tea parties. But, much to my surprise, my active, never still, video playing grandson loved our tea parties just as much as my granddaughter!

Here are some of the unexpected things that happened:

Both kids LOVED having tea parties and requested them when I didn't plan them. They also asked for napkin rings on the napkins because they were sparkly and colorful. And cookies on a special plate. They seemed enthralled.

Both kids liked to pour their own tea and took great care to do it without spilling or breaking. Even the 4 year old.

They sat quietly and used their best manners.
I was surprised when my grandson, who frequently has to be reminded of the importance of good manners, spontaneously said things like: "Would you care for some sugar?" or "Can I pour you some milk?" On his own. At age 8. In his most refined voice.

Both talked about topics that interested them and that didn't have to do with bodily parts or functions. Without reminders.

 If I forgot any part of our tea ceremony, they would remind me, and wait until I added whatever was missing so each time was complete. It mattered.

 I don't take sugar in my tea, just milk, but both kids prefer their black tea with milk and sugar. My grandson told me: "A little bit of sugar makes it easier to drink." Sound familiar?

So, drinking tea leads to wisdom as well as changing lives. 

Did I mention how much I enjoyed these delightful interludes? How much I liked being with my grandchildren partaking in this ageless ritual of sharing drink and food. Taking tea together, the drink of our ancestors, in hospitality and harmony.

Suspending our usual "go my own way" activities to focus on each other and the simple joy of good tea, in beautiful cups with a touch of sweetness.


  1. Oh, Mary!
    I love this post!! The part about 'bodily parts or functions' made me laugh. I'm such a huge fan of grandchildren and yours are adorable!
    What a wonderful idea you had. Who knew they'd both enjoy that so much?!
    Thanks for sharing.
    And thanks for your nice comment on my blog!
    If you need more book references - I'm your gal.

  2. You are creating beautiful memories for them, which will be shared with their children and grandchildren. Lovely!

  3. Oh, I love it. We still have pretend tea parties because the kids are only 2 and 3, so both the good china and drinking actual tea are both contra-indicated. But they are already building an awareness that pouring tea and cream are part of the rituals, and that manners are involved. I loved this post!

  4. owh. that's nice! i never had a tea party before! ur grandchildren r lucky to experience it!


  5. We love tea parties and 'fine dining' too! Now, with Margo nearby, we get to have them all the time!

  6. Gabriele, Thanks for the offer and the compliment.
    Lakeviewer, I hadn't really thought of that and it makes it seem even more special. I love imagining their children and grandchildren.
    Blissed-Out Grandma, I'm glad you liked it. You'll be surprised too at how young they are competent, especially given the practice you're doing. I love being surprised by grandchildren!
    Nan, That's inspiring given how your boys have turned out! "Hi" to them.

  7. What a wonderful way to spend time with them...and a fun way to learn manners for them! I remember doing the same thing with my grandmother. Only we had hot chocolate;)

  8. It makes you wonder if the demise of simple pleasures like tea parties might not have something to do the the demise of civility. I once had the privilege of hearing Helen Hayes speak. Her topic? "When did we take the "civil" out of civilization?" We need more tea parties, just not the kind that are brewing now.


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