In a parallel universe I might be having tea
nap – she actually asked for one and is currently asleep!
house – I feel like my work is paying off at the moment
Mr Pink – I ordered him another bottle of Amenivast and that seems to be keeping him in my good graces.
reading – the last book of the Robin Hobb set, and, I’ve found a fun British spy/supernatural series that I’m on the second book of.
One of the great things about blogs are that you can read about the normal lives of people all over the world. About 10 years ago this was, as far as I could tell, pretty much what blogs were 90% of the time but now I feel like the majority are not very personal. Back then I set out to find blogs with different points of view, I looked for people who were very different so I could see how their life was. Usually it was similar, sometimes there was major difference or two, but unfortunately most of them would stop writing at some point. I was doing what historians love – diary reading – because while it might not be 100% accurate history, it does tell you what is important to a person in a certain time and place and that is an important thing for understanding the diversity of the world.
Recently a new blog friend found me and I’ve enjoyed her writing too and even though we are on different sides of an ocean (the small one though) our lives do mirror more or less. The fun with international blogging is sometimes you don’t know what the words mean, or, they mean different things depending on where you are. This weekend FancyPaper had a long post about ‘tea’ and I got a little lost because she was using the word to mean the drink AND the meeting of friends AND the food that goes with tea. We had a little conversation in her comments working that out, but, I think it does merit an American version explanation.
To start – I do know what correct Irish tea is, the drink at least, because I am genetically 75% Irish. I think that might be genetically more Irish then a chunk of the people living there…. My father, and all his known (to me) ancestry, are from Ireland and he lived there all through college and vet school until an American girl turned his head, married him, produced me (who apparently screamed too much as an infant), and then moved to the US for greater work opportunity and to be closer to my mom’s family (so other people would hold the crying infant). My mom, who decided to go to Trinity in Dublin for grad school, is herself 50% Irish from her mother who’s parents both immigrated in the 20’s?. Her father is 100% Maltese, an island near Italy that almost nobody knows about, but he and his family emigrated to the US in the 20’s(?) (mom, fill in these dates I apparently don’t remember and you didn’t answer the phone) *** If My parents, or, various great grandparents decided that Ireland was the place for them, I would probably be having tea with my ‘mates’ rather than coffee with my mom friends.
Here – In the Unites States, in the area called the midwest (former farm country) moms between 25 and 40 who have kids at home visit around to eachothers houses in the winter and parks in the summer to sit and watch the kids play. It’s a way to catch up, it’s a time to compare war stories or ask advice from others in the same situation. Most of us have something different to bring to the group; some have way older kids, some have medical backgrounds we quiz about rashes and viruses, talk rarely strays from domestic but its always fun and I never leave less happy than I went. With my group we have decided that food is a treat and not a requirement and coffee is usually offered by the hostess. Sometimes we are the test group for a new recipe from someone, sometimes the hostess just wants to bake and nobody minds that. We all bring snacks or lunch for our own kids with enough to share if that suddenly becomes the ONLY thing our 2-year-old friend will eat.
I’m not sure how much anthropology you might want of our lives. Coffee is the go-to drink and if we are at a park we all have our handy reusable to-go cups in hand. Tea is sometimes offered but considered ‘fancy’. Milk is always from the carton and just as often in flavored creamer form. I’ve been on the lookout for a milk pitcher so my kids can pour their own but they are just NOT A THING here! I can find tiny tiny ones, super fancy ones, but apparently if I ever go to Ireland that will be what I buy for myself.
All that is for my close friends, people I know well, for people I don’t know too well if I invite them for coffee, everything goes just a bit more formal but by formal we mean +food. I would either bring or provide a nice cake or muffins and talk would probably not veer toward diapers.
Maybe the old phrase “what if the queen comes!” meaning you need nice tea set and pretty curtains and a clean house means so much less here in a completely Royality free country and since there is no chance of a Queen, no need for matching cups or fancy silver…
On the other hand, Dinner parties are serious business! Even a casual get together in the evening usually includes matching wine glasses, cloth napkins, setting the table and artfully plating dishes. Maybe it is the mixed (+guy) company, maybe it is absence of children, but a dinner is always more formal for the table setting.
Who knows if the way it is with my friends here is universal for the US but it is my slice and I’m happy to share cultures.
ps. my kids are also growing up drinking tea prepaired correctly; warmed pot, leaves, boiling water…