Friday, my best tea friend and I served tea to sixteen children, ten boys and six girls ranging in age from five to fourteen. Some of them definitely dressed for the occasion. The handsome Mr. Darcy on the left served as host, sitting at the head of the table and offering a blessing over our time. As the “etiquette expert”, I asked each child to find their seat, based on the predetermined seating arrangement, and stand behind their chair. Once Mr. Darcy was seated, everyone else sat, entering from the same side of the chair (“So we don’t bump into each other!” Emily pointed out).

We learned how to handle stirring our tea (without clinking our spoons on the inside of our cups) and not leave our spoon inside our cup when not in use. I reminded them to not drink their tea out of their spoons, and consider their topics of conversation (No, boys, this is not the time to speak of the roadkill our rural county often witnesses!). This is not so we can all act prim and proper and feel superior to others, but to show respect and graciousness to the other guests. This is why good manners are important.

Once the children were seated and served their tea, the six moms took their tea to the back porch and shared in conversation. If there’s one thing I wish I could have reminded the children and the mothers is not to rush. Eating fast is so common in our country, to race off to what we want or need to do more, instead of relishing the time gathered around the table. Next time.