The Spirit of the Day

Small cheer and great welcome make a merry feast.

~William Shakespeare

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and  many families are making plans to get together.  They will endure long lines at airports or drive miles to spend the day with family just to gather around the dinner table and share a meal.  In some cases, a football game in the backyard or on the television will round out the day.

I’ll let you in on a secret if you promise not to hold it against me – Thanksgiving is lovely, but it isn’t my favorite holiday. I know sacrilegious, right?  Don’t get me wrong,  I enjoy the day.  I just don’t wax poetic over it or spend hours poring over cook books to find the perfect turkey recipe. I don’t even particularly like turkey and I am not much of a carnivore even on the best of days.  The gasp you hear in the background is my son.  He loves everything about Thanksgiving and always has.   🙂   But there you have it.

I do embrace the chance to get together with my fun and quirky family though.  A Norman Rockwell painting we aren’t, but there is always plenty of laughter, odd snippets of conversations to drop in and out of and a rhythm that comes from being – well – family.  Thanksgiving is a time to remind us of what is important and to appreciate all that things that have led us up to this point.  That part I like.  A lot.

Like many people, we have family scattered far and wide.  It is rare we can all be together, but that doesn’t mean those missing are not part of the day.  Memories are shared between those gathered, silly thing recounted and laughed over and no one is safe.  Phone calls are exchanged and beloved voices are heard while everyone is jockeying for their turn to say “Hi”.  It is all part of the traditions of the day with us.  I am sure you have those, too.

So, in the spirit of the day, I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with good food and laughter.  May you embrace those quirky family members and appreciate your friends.  If  you are travelling, may your journey be safe.

Happy Thanksgiving!   🙂



Tea for Two or Three…

Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life

 more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony

 known as afternoon tea.

~Henry James

I bet you are wondering what a post about teatime has to do with writing.  The short answer is absolutely nothing.  The more in-depth answer: my sister, Lisa, gave a speech for one of her college classes.  Since it was close to Mother’s Day and it made her think of our mother, she decided to speak about one of our family traditions that is near and dear to all our hearts.  Tea.  I liked it.  So I am sharing it with all of you.  Enjoy 🙂 …

In our family drinking tea is a thread that binds us.  No matter what stage in life we are in, what our mood, or how different we have become, tea brings us together. We dress up for it, we calm down over it, we feel better when we drink it, and we love it.

I am the youngest of three daughters, born to a British mother who believes that there is nothing in the world that can’t be cured with a good cup of tea. If two or more of us gather we have tea.  No one ever has to say put the kettle on. We just know and do it. It is always the same.

The moment the tea goes in the pot and the hot water is poured in we begin to talk.  While the tea “mashes”, we discuss our lives or whatever crisis we are coping with at the moment.  We deal with the bad and laugh over the good.  Catch up on the angst of everyday or just enjoy the pleasure of being together.

Occasionally, we have mini family reunions that involve getting dressed up and wearing our fancy hats and going “out to tea”.  It is our chance to indulge in the ceremony that is deeply rooted in our family.  It reminds us of where we came from and the traditions passed down through the generations. When we put on our dresses and our tea hats it feels like a different time and a different place.  The everyday is gone and we are left with the moment.

I’ve had many friends over the years who when faced with heartbreak will eat chocolate or have a drink.  For me it is tea.  Throughout our lives we have faced many ups and downs.  Like any family we have had marriages, children and grandchildren, deaths and divorces.  In every instance, we as a family have had a cup of tea to fall back on, whether it was to share our joys, our sorrows, or to bring up our moods.

No matter how many family members there are we all know exactly how the others take their tea.  My mother, for instance, has always enjoyed her tea strong and black. No one would dare add milk or sugar to hers. When faced with her frown the strongest of us have been known to cringe.  At the very least you could expect to be on the receiving end of a rather strong lecture on the art of taking tea from an 81 year old woman with a colorful vocabulary and the sound of a fading English accent. Knowing how someone likes their tea is almost as important as knowing how someone likes their family. I hope this is a family trait that goes on for as long as our bloodline continues.