Monday, July 12, 2010

Bread and Water can so easily be
 Toast and Tea.

There's one question my children ask me everyday in the car on the way home from school.

"Mum, what's for afternoon tea?" 

At the end of a long day at school, food is a much anticipated comfort. When I mentioned to my sweet Tennessee writing buddy that I had to organize something for afternoon tea one day, she wondered whether I meant our evening meal.

In this house, we fancify our after school snack by calling it 'Afternoon Tea'. A little posh maybe, but if the mood strikes me, I like to lay a tea table with a hint of refinement. Fresh baking always looks best when it's presented on a pedestal and a dusting of icing sugar is a must. Even a shop bought lamington and glass of milk can be gussied up to look like a feast.

Afternoon Teas have been satisfying hunger pangs since Queen Victoria's reign. Celebrated as its inventor, Anna, Duchess of Bedford, wondered what to do with that 'sinking feeling' she experienced each afternoon. Her servants were instructed to deliver tea and petite cakes to her private rooms. In no time the ritual of taking tea emerged, as sophisticated society clamoured for it in the finest hotel tea rooms. Perhaps they followed tea time etiquette which required all drinkers to "never grasp the vessel... with the palm of your hand." 

While we shy away from serving dainty cucumber sandwiches, like many Australian families we do love our scones with jam and cream as well as pikelets and crumpets.  Lace edged tablecloths may have been pushed aside by the odd school book or lap top computer, but for me the sentiment remains the same. No matter how many cups of tea I've enjoyed alone that day, I'm always drawn to share a treat with loved ones before we go our separate ways again.

As the unknown sage observed:

Strange how a teapot can represent at the same time
 the comforts of solitude
 and the pleasures of company.

There is much benefit in snacking or feasting with others. Days are shared, problems may be solved and plans can be made for the future. Most of all God is honored, when we give Him thanks for all His blessings. It needn't be as fancy as a custard filled pastry. Even an afternoon tea of brown bread and honey is a gift from the Father who always delights in His place at the table. 

'Scuse me now, while I go put the kettle on....