As our lives become busier and busier and more and more complicated, we spend less and less time with those people who are most important to us. As a result, come the end of a year and beginning of a new one, I have often heard people resolve to increase the amount and quality of time they spend with loved ones. The resolution begs the question “How do you spend more quality time with family and friends?” One of the most time honored traditions for spending quality time with special people is to share tea with them! I would like to make the following suggestions toward that end.

Because families now often contain two working parents, we don’t often sit down to a meal together. Families need time together to create a healthy family system. It is vital to carve out at least small niches of time for supportive and loving connectedness or we are just a bunch of related people living under the same roof. One way to accomplish this is through sharing the practice of tea with your family. Tea and tea culture have been revered and coveted through millennia. One of the primary ways that people around the world express warmth, honor, and respect for others is through the sharing of tea. Even if families don’t have time to sit down for a meal together, they can always make time for tea.

If possible, create a special place: a room or an area of a room where everyone comes together to share tea and stories of the day. It’s a perfect way for parents coming home from work to unwind and reconnect with the children. If you make it a ritual, you can teach the children that this is a quiet, peaceful space and activity that the family shares. Loud voices or excessive activity can be discouraged. The children can be actively engaged in participating in the preparation and serving of tea. Over time, even the most active or vociferous child will learn that they gain more emotional rewards and attention from engaging with the family in this calm interaction then they do when they overwhelm mommy or daddy as soon as they walk through the door. For parents, it is a wonderful way to make the transition from work to home without feeling resentful of a spouse or children for not allowing them the time to regain their “home legs.”

With hectic work or family responsibilities leaving little time to prepare even a healthy meal for the family, people are often loathe to consider inviting friends over for a meal because of the extra time and work involved. An alternative is to honor your friends by sharing the practice of tea with them. No major preparations are necessary. Just invite your friends – or extended family – over for some tea, conversation and maybe a few treats. It’s a simple and thoughtful way to share time with them and let them know that they are important to you, without having to stress yourself out. As tea and tea preparation is calming and balancing, it is a win-win situation where you get to unwind and spend time with people you care about. For special friends or special occasions where you have the time and energy, you can even prepare a Gong Fu ceremony for them.

[photo credits: main post image by Russellvt at www.flickr.com; tea picnic by Victoryrock at www.flickr.com]