Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas Octave: Day Six

Thomas at five months old
I spent Wednesday morning rearranging our school room using six new bookshelves! It was grand fun, I am so excited, and I intend to post a video tour next week when we start back at school.

At four o'clock, I took Mary and Margaret to our long-anticipated mother-daughter holiday tea at The Ballantyne Hotel. This was our second year attending and the first year Margaret joined us: I told her that I expected not to take her until she was five, but if she could act like she was five, then she could join us. Her table manners actually exceed certain other older siblings, so she was welcomed to come and behaved beautifully.

Mary (7)

Margaret (4)

The table was beautiful, tea flavors delicious, and treats delightful. Mary chose Chocolate Lovers' Delight, Margaret chose Cranberry Holiday Tea, and I chose a cinnamon flavor.

Over our tea, the girls spoke in affected, polite tones of voice, as if they were little actresses, behaving as polite ladies would do. I'll take it!

We spoke mostly of literature during our meal: with Margaret talking to me about her Grey Rabbit books and Mary telling us at length about Francis Hodgson Burnett's The Little Princess, which she just completed reading the night before, and a junior version of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, which she has almost completed since receiving it at Christmas. We commented on and analyzed the flavors of the food and refilled our tea cups. There was not one fight, not even a cross word or insult spoken for an entire hour. It was so very pleasant.

Enjoying the balcony view in the rain after our teatime
I quite enjoy this nascent tradition of our attending a mother-daughter holiday tea. In our pursuit to teach truth, beauty, and goodness to our children, going to the occasional fancy event that requires our best dress, comportment, and manners helps teach much, and in an enjoyable way too.

When I pulled into the driveway, I braced myself--as if about to jump into a pool and be submerged--for rowdiness, being climbed on, imitation noises of gas being passed, fighting, tiny tots crying from accidental injuries, the shrill screams of offended sisters, and the raucous sounds of a big brother on the hunt to provoke.

Till next year, my holiday teatime . . .

(A note for my local readers: I discovered that attending the tea during the actual octave of Christmas, a mere five days after December 25, means that the hotel had already denuded itself of its gorgeous decorations and sent its live harpist packing. I am putting a reminder note on my calendar for next November first to call the Ballantyne hotel to make my holiday tea reservations for earlier in December, and I share that tip for anyone else who wants to enjoy it.)

Bonus reading: Check out this private school that bans or severely limits technology in its elementary grades, including asking parents to sign a contract to limit technology at home too. Sounds like a good idea to me!

Eight Days of Books

For Christmas we received the treasury of "Lyle, Lyle Crocodile" by Bernard Waber. These are the stories of an affable crocodile who never himself speaks but whose thoughts and feelings are narrated as he lives in New York City with the Primms family. The illustrations are lovely and old-fashioned, and the story lines sincere, straightforward, and engaging.

The stories take about 15 minutes to read, so they are stretching the attention span of my almost three-year-old, although he is very interested, and are a perfect length for my four-year-old.


  1. That tea sounds wonderful! I think Emma would enjoy something like that. It always makes me so sad to see Christmas removed so abruptly...I personally like to keep all our decorations out until after the new year, and I wish more of society would do that same. It shouldn't be so easily swept under a rug.

    And we love Lylie Lylie Crocodile!

  2. That is good to know, thank you Katherine. There is way too much Christmas everywhere in November and not nearly enough after December 25th.

    By the way, one of my daughters looked over my shoulder and asked "is that Mary's house?!"

    If only every meal could be so serene and so well-dressed!