I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, nothing can save a day like tea.
The last few weeks, round about lunchtime is the time I’m ready to cash in the chips instead of serve them. Lunch after a morning of screeching, screaming and squabbling seems like too much work especially when no one can agree on anything.
Enter tea! There is something trans-formative about putting on the kettle. When it begins to whistle, someone invariably says, “Wait! Are we having tea?!” and life is worth living again. Having tea means serving up finger foods that can be as mish-mash as you want them to be. It is soothing to set out a plate with toast spread with Nutella and topped with sprinkles. Healthy? Probably not. Magical? You betcha. Instead of trying to make a cohesive meal, the surprise of choices seems whimsical. And then they serve themselves which seems like sheer genius.
We probably won’t do tea for lunch for much longer as I don’t want it to lose it’s luster. But we’re all enjoying the respite it’s currently providing. We are flying through our read-alouds and lingering with each other. We’ve been sampling the latest teas Aunt Cristie sent from Columbia Kate’s – San Francisco Blend and Gold Rush. I must admit, I feel a certain pride hearing the kids debate the merits of their favorite teas and watching them eagerly try out new blends.
Do the kids still leave their plates on the table at the end of the meal? Yes. Do they still resist the afternoon siesta? Of course. But the occasion of tea seems to set our hearts aright and that allows me to be okay with all the rest. It’s worth it every single time.
Practically speaking: We started with very subtle teas (subtleties . . . get it?!) to allow the kids to gain a palate. Tension Tamer steeped around 3 minutes went over big with this crowd. Mint followed and remains a favorite. Of course, I always allow a certain amount of sugar and honey because I do. Milk in a creamer is all sorts of fun and a healthy and tasty addition.
Every day lunch service is made and put onto specific plates that belong to the kids. But when we do tea, I fill plates and bowls with the offerings while they set small plates at their spots and pull out their tea cups. Then they pass the food to each other providing a chance to work on manners. (Or not . . .) Some things we serve for tea (I usually have 3-4 things on the table) include: scones (when I’m daring), popcorn, sliced apples, sliced strawberries, frozen blueberries, baby carrots, sugar-snap peas, pretzels, toast fingers or triangles with Nutella or jelly or peanut butter, tiny crustless pb&j, sliced cucumbers, orange wedges, left over ham, gingerbread cookies, cinnamon toast, mini muffins from breakfast, cheese cubes or sliced cheese sticks on toothpicks (trust me, tooth picks are FANCY), left over waffles from breakfast dusted with powdered sugar, cheese and crackers, melon cubes, rolled lunch meat on toothpicks,etc.
Writing it out it seems silly – there is probably more effort that goes into tea than into regular lunch. But the difference is my heart. Making tea and the food to serve with it is creating an event and that is fun and a cause for joy. That in turn flows out to the crowd and that turns the day around.
Well, that and the Nutella. Ain’t nobody hating the Nutella . . .