A shy classmate in my kindergarten class admitted at circle time that her mother let her drink tea. Our teacher gasped and looked askance and said that little children should never be allowed to drink tea. I stayed silent as tea was the beverage of choice at our house every Saturday at breakfast and always when one was sick in bed with a cold. Both my grandmothers drank tea - one - the indulgent one, gave us "tea time" every Saturday at 3:00 when we gleefully spoiled our dinner with tea, potato chips and M & M's. My brother was also allowed ten consecutive teaspoonfuls of sugar into his delicate bone china tea cup. This I know because I counted each out loud. One...two...three...four...
With my other grandmother, tea was more refined. We sat at her table with silver spoons, cloth napkins and small sandwiches. But at both houses, tea was always sympathy...and love.
I drank gallons of tea this week. The stress of the election coupled with too many, too-early signs of the holidays bearing down, had me reaching for the tea box regularly, even at work. One simply cannot help but slow down when there is a warm brewing cup in the hand.
I have friends who visit often for a chat and a cup of tea. As soon as I see my "tea-friends" car, I put the kettle on. And when I visit them, they have my favorite mug heated and waiting. Tea time is our text, our email...our network. It is the way we touch hands and receive understanding for life's inevitable speed bumps. In the time it takes to drink just one cup, we sort through the tough week at work, an elderly father's unexpected fall, or a grown child's move to a distant town. We nod in communion over tea, offering each other something as warming as the fragrant elixir in our cups.
My kindergarten teacher may have believed that tea stunted children's growth or something similarly old-fashioned. But I believe tea along with sympathy makes us grow - in strength, if not in stature.