I have long held that the key to a lovely afternoon tea is to not knock yourself unconscious.
We host a lot of teas. Sometimes more than one in a single day. We’ve never been bound by that mid-afternoon tradition. We have them early afternoon, late afternoon, late morning, early morning and, on occasion, even at night.
Tea is served in the playhouse the husband built for the kids years ago. There is a large window with shutters on both sides of the playhouse. You can crawl in and out of them if you are of a certain size.
That’s a customary way of arrival and departure for tea, right?
There is also a small window with shutters by the front door and a front porch with a railing. There is no window on the backside of the playhouse, a design feature for which our neighbours on that side of us express everlasting gratitude.
The playhouse is pint-size, for pint-size people. A medium-size adult can stand up once inside, but maneuvering through the small door frame is a trick.
I whacked my head a good one on the door frame the other day delivering a tray with tiny mugs and a pot of hot chocolate. This week an 8-year-old grand who has been growing like a weed hit her noggin on the door frame.
Tea tends to be noisy and not just from the wailing when someone hits their head. Guests periodically bolt from the tea table to whoop and holler and run laps around the backyard. Other times, someone may suddenly have the urge to rearrange the furniture and toss a few plastic chairs out the window.
As difficult as it is to visualise that happening at Buckingham Palace, it works for this crew. It’s like afternoon tea collides with a wild west saloon.
A few days ago, a couple of them ran a power cord from the garage to the playhouse to hang twinkle lights they found in a box of holiday decorations. It’s always nice to keep your teas festive and seasonal.
There is an old mansion downtown that has been beautifully preserved and offers formal tea for children. We’ve thought of taking them, but the thought passed. It could be a shock to their small systems; it could also unravel the hosts should the kids jump up when cucumber sandwiches are served and yell, “When do we play soccer?”
It’s not like the kids have no refinement. Sure, a 4-year-old is sporting a black eye and a 6-year-old has her leg in a boot while a fractured ankle heals, but they know a thing or two about protocol.
They often wear gloves to tea. When it’s near freezing outside.
They also say please and thank you. And ask if anyone would like more as the pot is in hand and the last drop falls into their cup.
We may venture out for a formal tea one day. But right now, we’re a pot that needs to steep a wee bit longer.