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Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Let the Ordinary Be Ordinary So the Special Can Shine

My son and daughter-in-law gave us a generous basket of tea goodies for Christmas. There was tea, coffee, cookies, candies, fig jam, and chocolate-cherry curd. My first thought was to use the cookies as everyday desserts and the tea and jams with morning breakfasts. But then I thought about how special all of these foods are. The tea is a higher quality than what we normally buy, and the spreads are unique and not what we keep on hand. My son and daughter-in-law went all out with these special tea treats. If we ate them along with our ordinary foods, those average foods might be made a bit more special with their addition. But if we used these treats as they were intended, to have a tea party, this sort of special event would be memorable for our family, standing out all the more because tea parties are rare amongst our average meals. 

You've seen our weekly menus. My family eats very humble foods day after day. If my meals were described in color words, our everyday meals would be tan or gray. A tea party, in contrast, would be described as violet, sea green, or magenta. So we happily eat our ordinary meals, knowing that some special treats and meals can really stand out.

So that's what we've been doing this winter. It began just before taking down our Christmas tree (you can see it in the background of the top photo) and has continued every once in a while on a Sunday afternoon. I expand the Christmas tea goodies with homemade scones, egg salad sandwiches, and sometimes small cups of soup.

Who said tea parties are for children and old ladies? My family and I (husband included) have been making memories over cups of tea and plates of finger sandwiches and cookies.

This principle of only having a few special things amongst many that are ordinary can be translated into many other aspects of life. If you have to have the best of the best in everything, I think you begin to forget that what you have is the best, and you begin to take things for granted. If you always let your child choose a toy at the store when out shopping, the experience loses significance. If you travel for leisure every weekend, wouldn't you just long to have a quiet weekend at home for a change? Myself, I think I'd rather have a rare, but special, vacation. I like to believe that I would really savor every moment. 

Our tea treats are now about gone. I'm not sure my son and daughter-in-law had any idea just how much pleasure we'd receive from their gift.


  1. That is lovely! Our little special ordinary moments are drinking tea together. When we both are home at night together after a busy day, my husband comments that coming home to a nice quiet home with dinner smells throughout the house brings him comfort. We often have a pot of tea together after dinner and that is what an ordinary special time looks like. My son in law said he noticed how calm our home is which is very different from his home. His family is very busy (all in a good way) and ours is calm and soothing. We had our busy times when 3 kids close in age were all home so I'm grateful for the calm. But it hasn't been by accident either. I've been very deliberate to follow a good routine so that as evening arrives, stress and energy are reduced to allow for a good nights sleep. It doesn't always happen that way but we try our best.

    1. Hi Alice,
      You have done a marvelous job making a calming environment out of your home in the evening. I agree, less stress equals much better sleep.
      Well done!

  2. Your tea party looks like so much fun. I have only been to a tea two times and those were at restaurants. Maybe I'll have a tea party some day when things settle down here, but I will have to invite friends instead of my family. I don't think the carnivores in the family would appreciate it the same way my friends would. And you're right. Too much of anything takes away its specialness.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      No, the carnivores might not be too keen on a tea party. At our church, for many years a group of ladies put on "teas" each month to benefit local charities. At first, it was just ladies coming. Then a few husbands decided to come with their wives. And before we knew it, we had both men and women every month. This meant we had to adjust our menus, as the men needed something much more substantial. So our sandwiches also included some meat and cheese ones, and we always had pies as an option for a dessert course. It turned into more of a "luncheon" than a tea. But we called them teas, anyways. Whatever works. But I do hope that when life is back to normal, that you can have some friends or female family over for a tea party.

  3. You are so right! This is an area I really need to work on in my home. For us, not tea parties, but in other areas, such as ice cream being a treat, and not an almost nightly occurrence in the summer. Thanks for the reminder! And you do such a great job in making special meals and celebrations for your family.

    1. Hi Cat,
      Yes, with ice cream, too. Good example. We make ice cream at home, so we could have it every night in summer if we wanted. But I think we appreciate it more when we have it more sporadically.

  4. What a pretty setting! I'm sure you family enjoyed your tea parties and it will bring much joy to you to remember them.

    I so agree with your thoughts on making a few things special. I think it helps you appreciate the ordinary as well as feel the excitement of something "more".

    1. Hi Kris,
      That's a good point, that having some things special makes the ordinary appreciated, too. Several years ago, our family took a 9-day vacation where we were eating a lot of restaurant or prepared foods. By the day we came home, I was daydreaming about vegetable stew and baked beans. I just wanted my usual foods. Too much of a good thing is too much.


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