The other day my husband and I were talking about what type of headstone we would want when the time comes. For the past week our life has been peppered with talk like this, as we traveled back to Northeast Ohio for my mother's funeral. At one point my husband suggested that our headstone read "took the time for tea". Now at first this sounds a little like "they drank the kool-aid", but he has a point.
Ever since we first started dating we have made a point to take time out to sit quietly and enjoy each other's company over iced tea. OK, sometimes I am drinking coffee and my husband has the tea, but you get the idea. Got to the movie early? Go to the Panera next door for tea. Hitting up the shops on the old fashioned main street in pretty much any suburb? Stop at the local coffee shop for tea. When on vacation we make a point not to run from one tourist attraction to another. We always stop for a beverage break. One of my favorite stops may have been the little coffee/sandwich shop at the corner of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco. I remember the loving older couple at the table by the window, just sitting there sipping their coffee quietly, obviously comfortable with the warm silence after all these years.
I'll admit that once Matthew joined our family it became a little more difficult to stop and drink the tea. I remember one visit to Panera our first Christmas as a family that was anything but peaceful. We had been at the book store next door shopping for family presents when we headed in for tea. Our little guy has never been the "sit quietly in the stroller and play with toys" kind of boy. I remember at one point he had new books, a half eaten sticky candy cane, a sippy cup of milk and a handful of straws in his stroller with him. And it was still anything but peaceful. But it got better. Just last summer we were able to stop more than once while on vacation in Kentucky. Sure, the tradition has changed slightly. Sometimes we stop for ice cream now, instead of tea. But we still stop. And we always will.
My all time favorite stop for tea has got to be the Starbucks on Shamian Island in Guangzhou, China. We spent those days in China wandering around this little island day after day, waiting for all the appointments to be over and the paperwork to be finalized so we could return home, the two of us magically shifted into a family of three. There was no iced tea on that island; there was no iced drinks of any kind, really. but I remember sitting in the little garden area in front of the world famous coffee shop, drinking coffee and staring at this beautiful little boy sitting between us. That memory will always be with me. Thank God we took the time for tea that day!
I hope to pass this tradition on to my kids. I want them to understand the importance of just "being". Not being in a hurry, rushing from one activity or event to another. Not being in the same room with another person while not truly being present. I want my children to appreciate the down time. I want them to realize the importance of being still and being present with people you love. Friends, spouses, siblings, just taking the time for each other, quietly, away from the world.
My husband and I love our "time for tea". Just the other day we took a few minutes in between Chinese school and grocery shopping. We sat in the dining area of Giant Eagle sipping our drinks and enjoying each other's company while our little guy took the opportunity to climb under his car shaped shopping cart and "fix" his car.
So we will always stop and take the time for tea. And I agree with my husband. maybe we should put that on our headstone. It is a great life philosophy.