by Sunny Schlenger
I’ve never been a girly girl. (Except for that brief time during my teens when I joined my peers in the “uniforms” of the day – blouse with Peter Pan collar accented with circle pin, buttoned-down cardigan, skirt with matching knee-high socks and Bass weejuns, or a Danskin top, mini-skirt with patterned stockings and elastic headband, white lipstick and blue eye shadow. Oy.)
So when my friend invited me to “high tea” at a local tea shop featuring live jazz I wasn’t sure. I just couldn’t picture myself holding a delicate teacup with my pinky raised.
Surprisingly, the food was good. Not watercress and crackers as I had feared, but rather a full menu ranging from a variety of delightful tea sandwiches to mini-quiches, scones with clotted cream and truffles. It was deliciously decadent.
The local musicians were excellent. And the tea! I had never tasted White Ambrosia and the experience opened me up to an amazing variety of tea drinks that I hadn’t known about.
But the best part was the pure fun of it all. Here we were in the middle of the afternoon, being served superb little treats and listening to the soulful songs of Billie Holliday and Norah Jones. Now this was something worth sharing!
The next High Tea and Jazz was scheduled for the following month and was advertised as a Mad Hatter Tea to celebrate the opening of the film “Alice in Wonderland” that day. We asked three friends who didn’t know each other to join us and were met with Mad Hatter hats at our table and the services of a face painter. We donned the hats and paint and the fun quotient ratcheted right up. We found ourselves knocking back cups of tea like they were shots of Jack Daniels. There was most definitely a buzz.
The month after that we invited two more friends and had the best afternoon yet. We were laughing so hard that we were afraid the management would ask us to leave. Our conversation was especially engrossing because we each had our tea leaves read by a very good psychic who was there for the Tea.
High Tea was becoming much more than a monthly tea party. (And how annoying that the name of our gathering has been usurped politically!)
But a tea party it is and not your grandmother’s tea party either. Have you ever been with a group of people when the energy going around is off the charts? Where the connections are intense and compassionate and non-judgmental?
The following month the tea shop didn’t offer a High tea afternoon. So one member of our group opened her house to us and prepared a beautiful setting for sharing our own sandwiches, fruit, pastries, champagne and tea. When we admonished her for going to so much trouble, she replied that she loved doing it because we seldom take the time to make things special for ourselves and that we need MORE of this. She reminded us that we get so caught up in our routines and the demands of everyday living that we don’t set aside the space for what obviously gives us such joy.
It’s true and we all knew it.
High Tea gives us an excuse to pamper ourselves alongside the people we care about. It allows us to go deep in our discussions and yet still be able to laugh like we seldom do in a given day. We aren’t constrained by typical cocktail chit-chat, yet we still get to enjoy the finger foods and music. Most significantly, we’re actively supporting each other in wherever we happen to be each month.
It’s essential to hang out with positive people – people who are realistic optimists, have a healthy sense of humor and who enjoy being part of an uplifting group. I know that when I spend an afternoon with these ladies (whose ages range from 53 to 78) I feel terrific about myself and about life.
It can be tough to eliminate negative people from your surroundings but if you can avoid exposure to those who habitually bitch and moan, do so immediately. The difference in your energy level will be astounding. Choose to be with individuals who are able to enjoy who you really are and who bring out the best in you.
High Tea is definitely a treat but it doesn’t really matter what activity you engage in. Whether it’s bowling or going out for karaoke, if the activity feels special and you’re with people you enjoy and respect, it can give you a shot in the arm and the laughs you need to get through the rest of the week.