We are not having that cold of a winter here (at least not yet), but we have experienced some chilly days and nights. While I see many people wandering around with their hands cradling coffee cups, I'm a tea person myself. I have a small collection of (mostly china) coffee pots and chocolate pots and tea pots (one family heirloom dating to the mid-18th century) and also a couple of tea pots I actually use. I finished off furnishing my office with the addition of a new china teapot and mugs. And at home I make frequent use of the set in the photo above, which was given to me by my tea-loving son.
Putting the kettle on is what one does when one doesn't know what else to do. Drinking in the warmth, holding it in one's hands, is comforting. And sitting together sipping tea is a way many people experience a connection with one another. It's social and communal and sometimes therapeutic. Having tea is not just about the intake of necessary liquids.
My son and his fellow pilgrims discovered something about having tea as a community building activity when they were in Ireland last summer. The guys decided to create the nightly ritual of having tea together, and eventually they began inviting the girls and the adults to join them. Part of it was fun - wearing their button up shirts and arching their eyebrows and maybe extending the pinky finger and all that. But part of it was also probably a recognition of their own need to create community as they were away from home, in a foreign country, trying out some new freedoms and trying on some new identities.
Everyone needs rituals, and if we don't have them already in our lives, we will create them. They help us stay centered, they give us comfort, they help us have something to do with our hands, they feed us and nourish us in many ways. We love the familiar, the almost rote activity of doing what we know how to do to mark time or change or to bring comfort and stability into our world.
Blessed be the ritual of tea.