Last weekend, it was time once again to gather for our annual tradition of taking the kids to tea.
Though most of them are in high school now, the Littlest is about the age Jack was when we first started going. In fact, when this all began, she hadn't been born yet.
|The Littlest with her Mom, 2014|
The first time we went, I took along a few millinery hats that I had in my sewing room for fun...
Luckily, I had an old top hat from my mother-in-law so there was even one for Jack.
The kids have changed a lot since then but the hats have stayed the same...
In fact, here are the two girls pictured above taking a selfie at our very first tea...
They were ahead of their time. Now that everyone has a camera phone, selfies are a more common occurrence...
The Top Hat no longer fits Jack's head but I'm not sure he would wear it anyway given that his red hat is permanently affixed to his head.
Except for when it gets taken by one of his cousins...
They eat a lot more now...
Gone are the days when they used to split a tower of treats and we'd have take-home boxes.
And they are able to sit still for a couple of hours, looking pretty and sipping their tea...
For me though, the hats make the party.
The Littlest has only been to tea twice so far in her short life. By now, I have an entire old suitcase full of hats to choose from so I was curious as to which hat she would choose for the day.
I shouldn't have been surprised.
She picked this poodle-eared version that I've had since the very beginning.
When I first got this hat, a shop owner had given it to me for free, throwing it in with one of the hats with the pretty pink flowers. Honestly, I thought it was hideous and I almost gifted it to the Goodwill. I couldn't imagine that anyone would choose to wear it.
Boy was I ever wrong. Without a doubt, it has been the most popular "hat" over the years, having been chosen over and over again...
My SIL even wore it as a mustache...
If there's one thing I've learned about hanging with these kids, it's that I am never very good at predicting what will be a hit and what will not. They constantly surprise me.
By the end of the day, the Littlest had replaced Poodle Ears with Top Hat...
That means that Top Hat is moving up in the rankings, thank heavens.
It's true. Poodle Ears is still not my favorite "hat" but what I think is irrelevant.
After all, when children choose a hat over and over again through the years, it earns a higher status in life.
Gone are the days when a shop owner didn't even think it worthy enough to charge for it or when I almost gave it away to Goodwill unwanted.
Today, Poodle Ears is a family treasure which I've grown to respect. Even if Top Hat were to become more popular in the future, Poodle Ears still rates. Poodle Ears has become Real.
In honor of Poodle Ears and tea drinkers everywhere, treat yourself to one of the most beautifully-written passages in all childrens' literature. Happy weekend everyone...
“The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.
"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.
"The Boy's Uncle made me Real," he said. "That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always.”― Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit