For 12 years my daughter, mother-in-law, Sarah, and I have hosted a mother-daughter Valentine Tea Party for our friends and family. Reading the passage below has been how Sarah has begun brunch for the most recent several. Every time I hear it, particularly the sections I’ve bold-printed for emphasis, my heart is moved.
“When did you last have a tea party? When was the last time you enjoyed a cup of tea with someone you cared about? Isn’t it time you did again?
…perhaps the idea of a tea party takes you back to your childhood. Do you remember dressing up and putting on you best manners as you sipped pretend tea out of tiny cups and shared pretend delicacies with your friends, your parents, or your teddy bears? Were you lucky enough to have adults who cared enough to share tea parties with you? And are you lucky enough to have a little person with whom you could share a tea party today? Is there a little girl inside you who longs for a lovely time of childish imagination and “so big” manners?
It could be that the mention of teatime brings quieter memories–cups of amber liquid sipped in peaceful solitude on a big old porch, or friendly confidences shared over steaming cups.
But even if you don’t care for tea–if you prefer coffee or cocoa or lemonade or ice water, or if you like chunky mugs better than gleaming silver or delicate china, or if you find the idea of a traditional tea overly formal and a bit intimidating–there’s still room for you at the tea table. Few can resist a tea party when it is served with the right spirit.
You see, it’s not the tea itself that speaks to the soul with such a satisfying message. And it’s not the teacups themselves that bring a message of beauty and serenity and friendship.
It’s not the tea, in other words, that makes the teatime special. It’s the spirit of the tea party.
It’s what happens when women or men or children make a place in their lives for the rituals of sharing. It’s what happens when we bother with the little extras that feed the soul and nurture the senses and make space for unhurried conversations. And when that happens, it doesn’t really matter what fills cups of holds the liquid.
It really isn’t the tea.
It’s the spirit of the tea party.
And, it is in that spirit I offer an invitation to tea.”
Excerpted from Emilie Barnes’ “An Invitation to Tea”.