Thank You, 2020

To anyone who has lost someone to Covid-19 this year, we wish for you to know the peace of a healing heart. Today’s post is written in memory of Ed Bissen, our close family friend, whose straight-shooting, loving presence had the power to steady and cheer you.

Giving Thanks in All Things

I get how you might be wondering if this headline is sarcastic or a joke. 2020 has got to be going down in the history books as one of the worst years of all time.

Sun shining through the clouds
Image by Skitterphoto

Actually, this blog post is an important exercise for me. My book club is reading The Road Back to You, “An Enneagram Journey to Self Discovery.” Testing as a number One (“The Perfectionist”), I can tell you, we Ones can fall into the bad habit of looking on the negative, because we are always seeking ways to make things better. Good intent, poor outcome. For us, a gratitude practice is a very needed thing; it helps restore our goodwill towards the world (and gives our families a break from our critical eye). So today, as the Christmas season begins, I’d like to reflect on the good that has shone through the suffering during this difficult year.

Thankful for…The Body’s Power to Heal

No more Covid-19
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Especially at the start of the pandemic, when medical professionals were learning which therapeutics worked best for coronavirus, the body’s ability to defend itself was a person’s best chance at survival. Those of us who prayed for a sick loved one know the joy their recovery brought. Under this category, I also give thanks for the heart’s power to heal. For those who had to say goodbye over the phone, the heart’s resilience gave the strength to deal with sudden grief.

This virus has reminded us not to take anyone we love for granted. That I can still pick up the phone and hear my Aunt Mary’s “hello” is a gift to me. That she can read this message today is a joy:  Aunt Mary, I love you and I am so thankful you are in my life!

Thankful for…Brainiacs and The Digital Age

Virtual band class
Virtual band class

Okay, I know how this will sound to anyone who knows me well. I admit, there is a bit of a contradiction in how I view technology. Though I run this website, I freely bemoan the ubiquitous presence of screens in today’s society. I do constantly ask my family to put their phones away. Nevertheless, I have to acknowledge how fortunate we were that Internet infrastructure and online platforms were what they were when the pandemic hit.

My four children are virtual schooling, many people shifted to work from home, streaming services gave us a break from reality, and Zoom became our mental sanity lifeline. Using Marco Polo, I’ve even deepened my bonds and reconnected with college friends and close friends who’ve moved away. So cheers to all the brainiacs who invented, perfected and installed the technology that makes all of this remote connectivity possible, and special thanks to them for having it all teed up in time to help us through this crisis.

Thankful for…Essential Workers

During the spring lockdown in Georgia, while I was thinking about how to take care of my family, my friend Maya was doing that too, plus going to work as usual, as a nurse in an Atlanta hospital. We are indebted to the courageous folks that put themselves at risk in order to keep growing our food, running our grocery stores and restaurants, delivering our packages, fixing our cars, and protecting and saving our lives, so that others could stay safe at home.

Thank you essential workers
Image Credit: AFL-CIO

Thankful for…A Worldwide Outcry for Racial Justice

It’s been acknowledged that the altered reality of quarantine life — the isolation, anxiety, slowed pace and increased reliance on social media for interaction — kindled a powerful, global reaction to the killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, among other wrongful deaths of Black Americans. I am grateful that the call for racial equity has again risen to the national stage. We have work to do in this country, and the first step in creating change is acknowledging that change needs to happen. If you’d like to learn along with me, please check out the weekly topics in my local antiracism group’s newsletters.

Ijeoma Oluo anti-racism quote
Image credit: Table XI

Thankful for…Nature Doing Its Thing

Outdoor front garden office, spring 2020
Front garden office, spring 2020

In March, when our schools first closed, for two weeks (ha), and the stores sold out of toilet paper (why?), it began to sink in: we were in for a major adjustment.

As humans canceled plans and began adapting to lockdown life, the natural world went about its usual business, which was a notable and comforting source of normalcy in an upended world.

Sitting quietly in my garden surrounded by the busy sounds of spring’s arrival felt like a kind of reassurance. The world keeps turning; this too shall pass.

Thankful for…The Joys of Tea

We tea lovers, as always, find solace in the magical, restorative powers of a cup of tea. As shutdowns spread across the country, we turned to our tea rituals to cheer us and connect us.

The Cream Tea Comeback

In the early months of the pandemic, it was as if a call went out across the land: “Let the baking begin!” Flour sold out as tea lovers everywhere began testing scone and dessert recipes, for at-home teatimes. Our social media was flooded with tantalizing cream tea pictures and shared recipes.

New Destination Tea Content for Hosting Tea at Home

At Destination Tea, this trend inspired us to get cracking on one of our original goals. Temporary tearoom closures meant we had some downtime, and could focus on adding new content for hosting tea at home: Tea Party Planner Template, Themed Tea Party Guides, Recipe Indexes, Online Tea Shops, Vintage Teacup Shop and Tea Party Caterer Listings and 10 Amusements for Tea Lovers at Home.

10 Amusements for Tea Lovers during Shelter-in-Place

The Virtual Tea Party Is Born

Okay, this is just fabulous. Over Zoom, tea friends began gathering to take tea together. Many times this was a casual affair, but some folks went all out (which we love). First, each household would receive a tea party package with all the trimmings (scone mix and spreads, recipes to prepare in advance, teacups, tea with brewing instructions, party favors, etc), then everyone would set a beautiful tea table in front of their cameras, and join the call dressed in their tea finery. Another popular idea was to have your virtual tea party menu catered…

Afternoon Tea Boxes

Rooting mightily for tearoom owners to survive the forced restaurant closures and reduced dine-in capacity of 2020, we cheered their ingenuity when they introduced a new product: the to-go afternoon tea. One Pennsylvania tearoom owner told us she actually did more business this Mother’s Day than ever before, by offering a takeout Mother’s Day afternoon tea. More and more tearooms have begun to creatively package their afternoon tea menus (tea, sandwiches, scones, spreads and desserts), for delivery or curbside pick-up. Some even ship them nationwide!

Ivy Tea House Afternoon Tea Box
We loved our takeout afternoon tea from Norcross’ Ivy Tea House

Check out your local tearooms to see if they offer afternoon tea to-go. We notice many offering seasonally scrumptious menus for holiday teas — the perfect gift for your tea friends — which when combined with the virtual tea party, can bring holiday joy to loved ones who are isolated in quarantine.

Tell us, what good rose to your attention in 2020?

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

10 Comments

  1. At the height of my anxiety of trying to sort out how my 7 year old will be returning to school in the fall and negotiating work-related issues due to the pandemic, I experienced a medical emergency which turned out to be cancer. Although processing this diagnosis was difficult and the thought of possibly leaving my child motherless caused some despair, I’m grateful for how our family bonded and worked to face this new reality together.

    I’m also in a better place to reflect on my life and can see that the everyday grind of focusing mainly on work and school had been deterring our family from fully experiencing life in the moment and growing emotionally. While undergoing chemo and trying to focus on things that make me happy, I found Destination Tea and other groups that obviously share in the same delight I have for afternoon tea!

    Visiting these sites helped me to stay positive and viewing pictures of beautifully decorated tables became another form of support for me. Although 2020 has been a challenging year, I can also say that there are a lot to be thankful for- including finding your lovely website. I’m looking forward to visiting many of the tea houses you’ve featured once the pandemic is over with and excited to receive each new post from Destination Tea. Thank you for being such a generous guide and host of all things tea!

    1. Cheryl, thank you for sharing your story and kind words. Hearing how Destination Tea has brought some gladness into your life, while you have had to face the fear of leaving your child too soon, my heart is full. This is a moment in Destination Tea’s life that I will always cherish. Your words have made me feel like I am doing what I am meant to do. I pray that your prognosis is good, and you have the support of friends and family as you heal.

      And yes, you speak for us all: we are ready to go to tea again! One of my close friends rightly said, just having something to look forward to can help you feel more sane right now. And the good news is, new tearooms continue to open across the country, so we have much exploring to do!

  2. This post is a beautifully written commentary, graced with gratitude at a time when that is often hard to find and/or feel. You managed to embrace the situation – such as it is – and find good there. KUDOS!

  3. My wonderful niece, Angela! You have always been and continue to be such a joy in my life. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for remembering my beloved Ed in your dedication. He was such a beautiful part of my life and I will miss him always. I, too, am learning more and more to be grateful for what I have. After all, do we really want to break a leg before we appreciate the wonder of them each and every day?! So proud of you, Angela!
    With much love from Aunt Mary

    1. My wonderful Aunt Mary,
      Thank you for your kind words, and for sharing that wisdom. Loss and suffering do give us the opportunity to learn gratitude, and yes, actually literally for my working legs (soccer injuries will teach you to have that appreciation). To have Ed missing from our “Famiglia” photos this Christmas hurts, but then he is still there, in our hearts and memories. Love you and wishing you a peaceful holiday season,
      Angela

  4. All those that have passed in your family are looking down on you and smiling. They are brimming with pride; proud of their niece, great niece, granddaughter, the mother and entrepreneur you’ve become. You spread joy which is so needed in today’s world. I’m sure I speak for many when I say we are grateful for you and Destination Tea in our lives.

    1. Thank you Marie, you honor me. I certainly do feel my ancestors around me, especially when I struggle, and I am grateful to have been raised with so much love. If Destination Tea can bring joy to others, it is a success!

  5. Thank you Angela, for your commitment and dedication to sharing your love for afternoon tea with the world. I’ve been fortunate to have gone to afternoon tea at least twice this year and have treasured every visit. I love your eye for details and extensive knowledge of the history and customs of afternoon tea. It has been such a joy to see your site and content grow over the years and I commend you for being bold enough to carry this on, despite the challenges. I look forward to your continued success and sharing many, many more cups of tea with you dear friend.

  6. Jeanette, when I think of afternoon tea, I think of us! Mostly us endlessly laughing. We crack ourselves up. I am thankful for all the teatimes we have shared, and that our sugar cube rating system actually became real tearoom reviews. Just took a couple years. Thank you for the constant encouragement, and looking forward to our next afternoon tea.

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