Christmas Eve Morning. I made a little tray for myself: Buttered toast, fried eggs, a pot of tea. And as I sat on the couch fixing the first cup, pouring in the cream, stirring the swirling brown and white, I thought,"This is fun. No wonder children enjoy it."
My next thought was this: Adults don't do this.
How do we make tea?
Well, most of us don't. We make coffee. In mugs at best, or styrofoam cups with lids at worst, in the drive-thru. Drive-through.
How we've shortened things, or eliminated them. Why do little girls have tea sets? Why do they sit for hours stirring invisible cream into imaginary tea?
Why can you buy a 30-piece toy tea set for your 4-year old at WarMart, but not a real one for you - ANYWHERE?
I see the sitting room of an English home, 75 or 100 years ago, late afternoon. The tray enters, everyone sits. The day dies outside, the fire blazes. As the tea is poured, and tended, and cupped in hand, each one around the low table sits back, relaxes, stirs absently and then sips. This was a ritual, a part of life, a comfort that we've lost altogether. We've replaced the beverage, and lost the benefit.
It's no wonder that something this pleasant would be imitated by the children: little tea sets, little spoons, tea parties in nurseries. And now, the words 'tea party' conjure up images, not of adults, but of little girls in frilly dresses. Why?
Because we keep the things of childhood; they remain precious to us, even as we jettison the things of adulthood.
I'm keeping my tea. Merry Christmas Eve!