Tending Our Humanity

Lately, everywhere I look, I see this truth repeated: we need to take care of each other. The Exception pops up in my Netflix list, a week after I finish reading The Tattooist of Auschwitz for bookclub. In both World War II stories, acts of selflessness and kindness save lives. As the world responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we begin to understand that our elderly and immunocompromised are most in jeopardy, the social distancing and hygienic practices we undertake are not only to keep ourselves healthy, but also to protect our neighbors.

The Golden Rule

Although it’s understandable that we want to prepare our homes and families for weeks out of school or work, bulk shopping may mean that another family cannot get the supplies they need. I am uplifted by those who want for another family what they would want for their own. Besides, in the case of a communicable disease, taking care of our neighbor is taking care of ourselves, right?

inspirational locker message
Picking up my 6th grader’s books today, there’s that same message, this time posted on lockers by an inspirational Social Studies teacher: “We Rise by Lifting Others.”

It is heartening to see examples of Americans wanting to help one another, like this local effort in Dunwoody, GA, while schools are closed, to provide food for neighborhood kids who typically rely on school breakfasts and lunches for their meals.

[Credit: Love for the Elderly]

Another wonderful suggestion we just heard is to have the kids home from school write to the elderly, especially as nursing homes are temporarily suspending visitors to prevent contamination. Here are some guidelines and examples on letter-writing to an anonymous recipient, from Love for the Elderly, whose mission is to “Help People to Love” and “Help People Feel Loved.” If you are concerned about the spread of the virus through mail (so far, experts say don’t be), how about creating a funny video or emailed note that can be sent to a local nursing home? For younger ones, this exercise can double as Art and Language Arts work. And for us tea lovers, why not slip in one or two packets of your favorite tea?

Kimberly Shaw Tea Cup Cards
Kimberly Shaw Graphics has created a beautiful collection of “Teacup Cards” that each come with one Harney & Sons tea perfectly nestled inside. [These will definitely be in our 2020 Holiday Gift Guide!]

‘Cause You Gotta Have Friends

Bette Midler sang it: we need our friends! We see on social media that tea friends are still gathering in small groups to enjoy teatimes together. As social distancing becomes a real thing worldwide, it underscores how much we need each other’s company and conversation. That goes for moms and dads too, who are now doubling as homeschool teachers. (Good luck to us all!). Stay-at-home parents already know that hanging with adult friends is a mental health requirement for Mom to be on her “A” game.

These beautiful, happy moms at a recent winter tea, are also the kind of amazing neighbors who come together to support each other in times of need.

As we hole ourselves away at home and pray for each other’s well-being (physical and emotional), social interaction is suddenly precious. Just when we have so much to discuss! No longer able to take social outings for granted, we see what a blessing it is to gather with your tribe, to have close friends whose smile alone lifts your spirits.

I am deeply grateful to have such friends, one of whom, Michael Podkulski, has been a friend of our family for 20 years. He exemplifies the kind of person this post is about: the kind that truly cares about others. He began coaching our kids’ soccer teams at the local church when they were young, and continues to volunteer coach there to this day, though our kids have long since moved on. He regularly brings dinner to a community ministry that supports recovering addicts and homeless men, and recruits his friends to do the same, to pray and share stories of struggle and triumph together. He hosts an annual networking event in the hopes that his friends will connect in ways that help each other grow professionally. And not least of all, he’s a pretty accomplished breakdancer. But perhaps most importantly to me, he’s the kind of friend who will meet you out just because he knows you need the company, and he really listens, and roots for you. He is a treasure in our lives, and though most of his gifts are not material, here’s one that is brightening our home teatime this week:

Challenge Gives Birth to Gratitude

I’ll admit, sometimes when I intend to be authentic, I just sound like a complainer. When life is trying, it helps to remind myself to give thanks instead of looking on what lack there is. Sometimes a good attitude is all it takes to turn the day around. Today I am grateful for:

spring veggie garden
Renals’ 2012 spring veggie garden
  • Communities that seek to lift each other up,
  • Medical professionals that dedicate their lives to educating themselves on how to protect and heal us, and who sacrifice their personal time to work long hours to keep hospitals, testing facilities and urgent care centers running,
  • Access and funds to have technology and internet service that allows us to call, message, email and Facetime loved ones to stay in touch and work/learn from home,
  • Farmers who continue the hard labor of planting, growing and supplying our food,
  • Home veggie and fruit gardens that reduce our trips to the grocery store and make us more food secure,
  • Every person going in to work to give us access to needed products and services at stores, pharmacies, gas stations and restaurants,
  • Leaders who have to make tough decisions about closings, reschedulings and cancellations for the better good of community health,
  • And most of all, that these challenges do not equal the worst hardships faced by societies who have had to survive war or years-long economic depression.

This Too Shall Pass

As spring-break travel, school proms and special event teas are postponed in an effort to slow the spread of this virus, is it callous to go on writing about the joys of teatime?

We say no, because taking tea is an act of welcome and friendship, which we always need to practice (just in smaller groups for now). To brighten these cautious days, we will continue to pursue our 2020 goal: developing content designed to help you host afternoon tea at home, i.e.,

  1. At-least-monthly Destination Tea YouTube videos with afternoon tea etiquette tips and recipes,
  2. Added website content for hosting tea at home with themed tea party plans from menus to decorations, costumes to activities.

Plan Ahead: Reserve Your Mother’s Day Teatimes!

Local businesses need our support more than ever to ride out this dip in the economy, and we see tearooms posting about their sanitary practices to let the public know their health is paramount. To date, there hasn’t been a federal mandate closing restaurants, but one tea shop owner has decided to temporarily close and reopen when the coast is clear. He encourages tea-goers to “tell the businesses that can make the tough decision to close, that you will be there to support them when they reopen.” Good idea, after all, what better way to celebrate the return of social freedom than to go to tea?

afternoon tea at Ivy Tea House in Norcross
For grandmothers, moms, daughters, sons, grandchildren and anyone who wants to honor motherhood (or take a break from it), Mother’s Day is a wonderful reason to go to afternoon tea!

The hosts of afternoon tea across the country put their hearts into the memorable experience they create for us when we come to tea, and at Destination Tea, we want to see these hardworking folks succeed. If you decide to sequester yourself for the time being, we suggest looking ahead to make your May Mother’s Day tea reservations. Check our afternoon tea directories for a teatime near you, and show your support for these beloved tearooms by letting them know you’ll be back soon!

Tea Voyageuse, discovering the world of afternoon tea, based in Atlanta, Georgia.

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