Yesterday I was with a group of ladies who are all my Mum’s age. We had a lovely morning tea at one lady’s home. The hostess laid the table out beautifully. Each place setting had a small plate with a napkin on it and on top of that was a tea cup and saucer with a lovely spoon. There was a selection of yummy things to eat as well as a nice sugar bowl and milk in a jug. The reason I am telling you this in such detail was because it really struck me as being quite beautiful.
The layout of the table made me sit straighter, pour my milk delicately into my cup and give a little tinkle tinkle with the spoon and then sip it oh so lady like. (I’m sure I even poked out my pinkie finger as I held my beautiful cup!). We said please and thankyou as we passed around plates with yummy snacks.
The ritual was really lovely. The actual beauty of the scene shaped our behaviour. It slowed us down and made us engage in the setting.
Hubby and I have often spoken about the loss of this tradition of having people over for morning or afternoon tea. Hubby speaks about his two old aunts. As a child he loved going over to visit because in a minute they could put together the most wonderful ritual of afternoon or morning tea. The house was always tidy and organised and they never had to jump in the car and run to the shop because they were out of milk!
I have very fond memories of going to my other Nanna’s house ( she died in 1999) She was actually my Godmother, but she was always treated like a Grandmother. Every time we visited her we were made to feel very special indeed. She ALWAYS laid out the table cloth and got out the “good cups” and in a few seconds could put together a spread that most of us would be in awe of. She could make the most amazing sponge cakes, all cooked in a wood stove. She was so amazingly resourceful. She even knew how to chop particular types of wood for different things she was cooking. I always remember her chopping ‘scone wood’.
Whenever anyone came to her house that knew her they always came to the back door. The back door opened onto a small veranda area and then you stepped up into the house. On the left just off the corridor and leading into the bathroom was the old concrete twin washtubs and her old washing machine. Not once on my entire life of going there did I ever have to step over her washing that hadn’t been done. Can you imagine if the main entrance into your home required your guests walking into your laundry – would you be proud of cringing ? Not once was her home messy, or she hadn’t washed up or had piles of ironing or the beds unmade. Even if we turned up unannounced!!!
In my generation, no-one does the ‘afternoon tea spread’. Although I do have some frugal friends that do coffee and home made goodies, generally speaking no-one my age even has anyone come to their home for a cup of tea !!!! If you want to catch up with friends you have to go to a coffee shop.
I believe that we have lost the art of hospitality. We can’t have anyone come over without two hours notice so we can tidy up! I’m not saying that this is everyone, it is just what I observe. We have all the labour saving devices yet we get so little done.
Before the days of mobiles and telephones, people used to go ‘visiting’ and just drop in on their friends. It was a usual occurrence. Scones were the usual accompaniment to a cup of tea because they were quick to whip up. Can you honestly say that if visitors dropped in unannounced you could whip up a batch of scones ? LOL How times have changed!
So...... In my quest to revive the old traditions I am going to revive morning or afternoon tea. Lots of people drop in for a coffee here, but I am going to make them feel that little bit more special. I will put down a table cloth ( oooooohhhhhhh) and use the ‘good cups’ (ooooohhhhhh) and my sugar and milk jug. I am not the scone maker in the house ( Hubby is) but I generally have some baked goods on hand. If not, there is always the trusty frozen biscuit dough already shaped so I can have cookies in about 12 minutes.
Everyone thinks, “oh, don’t go to any trouble”, but gee it is nice to “play ladies” it changes our behaviour and in a world where everyone is only looking out for themselves, it is nice to spread a little kindness and joy!
Are you a household that has lots of drop-ins who you are always prepared for or are you cringing at the thought of anyone knocking on your front door. I would love to know YOUR thoughts. Please leave a comment.