How the pandemic season facilitated and refined our relational methodology.
2022, July. Family vacation on Lake Erie Islands
So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
In the drudgery and uncertainty of the early days of the lockdown, our family began tea-time as both an escape and a destination. The historic event spilled into our home with defeating frequency, headlining updates, mandates, and whatnot. We often speculated how things would shake out. The TV needed turned off, the cell phone News Feeds shut down, and some flicker of normalcy restored.
The notoriously dark season sifted a strong conviction from us as parents. We wanted our daughter's understanding of social interaction to reflect dynamic, life-giving connections. We allowed the lockdown to refine our family value that honest, transparent relationships matter. And nothing was facilitating that better than tea-time. No screens, shut out the world's chatter, and enjoy the moment, presently.
As a means of breaking up the monotony, we discovered some delicious, desert-like teas that were gastronomic adventures. The standard was never like a British high afternoon tea, although we tried it and found joy in the delicacy and formality. Our daily wares were a plain teapot from Target and two to three mismatched mugs at the dining room table, sometimes accompanied by activities.
December, 2020. An evening tea-time.
It quickly became the daily ritual that everyone looked forward to and eventually became scheduled and announced: “Tea is ready!” No second announcement needed.
Soon it became twice a day, 10am and 3pm. It became the moment of reprieve, retreat, relaxation. No matter how badly the morning went, teatime was around the corner. No matter how difficult the afternoon was to endure, teatime was coming. Ranging from 10-30 minutes, it offered a warm drink and human connection where “social distancing” was a thing of another world and all that mattered was the people around you. The only enduring rule: no screens.
2021, Spring. A special tea time with Gidget, our cat.
Over tea, the slow, methodical sipping allowed us to reflect on our ties to and care for one another. Between husband to wife, parent to child, friend to friend, these moments together were relational reminders, grounding us in what really matters: to love one another.
Tea-time is a moment to step back and remember why we endure the difficulties of parenting, of stressful workdays, hardship and challenges. It is for the benefit of those we love and seek to serve. Tea-time is no simpler explained than a chiropractic adjustment for our relationships.
We would love to share with you some of the tea-time practices that have become engrained in our household. These have edified our values, centering the things that should have focus and weed out frivolous endeavors. It has also taught us that the simple is indeed divine, and the hurried chaos and complexities of the “Rat Race” aren’t worth pursuit. Our days are short, and they are numbered. Wisdom says "Let’s make sure they are filled with what matters most."
For God is not a God of confusion, but of peace. 1 Corinthians 14:33
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8
The difference between stiff tea-time and a joyful connection ritual can be most easily navigated by the tea offerings, snacks, and loving attitude. This could be, after all, someone’s oasis in an otherwise boring or terrible day! Depending on those attending and time of day, you may want to consider a caffeine-free tea. Additionally, you will need a kettle, (we cannot live without our electric kettle), and a teapot large enough to serve at least one full mug per person. If you are using loose leaf tea, you will need a tea steeping ball or a strainer.
What you need
· Delicious Teas
· Electric Kettle
· Tea Steeping Ball
Next, some teas are delightful with a splash of milk and/or honey, so you will want to make them available as well. Lastly, you will want to make them available, at hand, so it is not necessary to get up after everyone comes together. Anticipating needs and preferences will keep the moment uninterrupted. Over time, needs and preferences will become second nature, instinctive to your teatime culture. So brew the tea, set snacks out, and announce the tea is ready!
Things To Consider
If the offerings meet the preferences of those attending, momentum will gain naturally. However, the person cultivating a culture of connection will be the fuel for the vehicle for a season, so don't lose heart! Eventually it will become not only accepted, but expected (this is the victory!) Younger children are particularly drawn to the ritual and individual attention, making this an excellent way to connect while snacks draw in the older kids (husbands too). Of all the things you will need, patience is key. Our family practices tea-time at least a half dozen times a week and has been for almost three years. At first, it was just myself (Amanda) making tea. Eventually, if I was running behind, Tyler or our daughter would disappointingly ask "Are we having tea?" Graciously, I'd stop what I as doing and make it while those held in waiting listened to me narrate aloud what I was doing and why. Voila - everyone learned how and why.
Now each of us knows the ritual, the tools required, and enjoys the experience and the heart of serving. It is the thing we look forward to when we get home after traveling, the best way to settle a big meal, and the only thing you can add to cuddle time that makes it better. Hesitancies to attend are understood as unresolved conflict and prioritized as high importance. Teatime has served as a litmus test of relational health.
From Our Home To Yours
Below are several links to help you get started. We look forward to helping you begin a ritual of tea-time in your home because we know what it has done for ours. We love to see marriages work, families connecting, and homes happy. We know these things make for healthier, stronger communities.
2022, Fall. Working to label and package teas at Rock Falls Coffee Co. roastery.