Tea for two or 40
The day may have been dreary outside, but inside the walls of the Barrhead Library was a warm and welcoming atmosphere Tuesday, June 5.
Elegant hats, handsome suits, and decorative teacups could be spotted at each of the six tables set up for the annual Spring Seniors’ Tea, which ran from 1:30 p.m. to about 3 p.m. Although this is typically an event that happens specifically as a Seniors’ Week event, this year the tea was also in honour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Seniors from Hillcrest Lodge were not the only ones enjoying a hot cup of tea, crumpets with jam, and various other goodies. Grade four students from Barrhead Elementary School were also in attendance, and ready not only for the afternoon teatime, but to learn.
Each student was provided with a clipboard of questions, which they could use to record the answers given to them by a senior at their table. The questions ranged from simple inquiries such as their name or where they lived most of their life, to others that allowed for longer conversation such as whether or not they remembered the crowning of Queen Elizabeth, or if they have an object that reminds them of the Royal family.
As the library buzzed with dozens of conversations, Hillcrest Lodge activities manager Shelley Oswald said she thinks it’s nice for the students to have an afternoon to interact with the seniors. Quite often in this day and age, added Oswald, there are not many opportunities for youth and seniors to speak to each other.
“It’s a simple idea, but it brings the two generations together,” said Oswald. “And today they have something to share, because it’s all around the Queen. The students wouldn’t know much about the Queen, but the older folks would know a lot.”
Oswald said she thinks it is important for the seniors and students to spend quality time together. Although sometimes it may be a bit of a struggle to get the conversation started, having an event like the Seniors Tea helps break down any barriers.
“Once they get across that little hurdle, creating opportunities for them to get together, it’s nice,” said Oswald. “Not all seniors are grouchy, and not all youth are disrespectful. There’s an even playing field and everyone gets to know each other.”
“Grandparents don’t live with the families so much, not like they used to, so there aren’t as many opportunities for kids to be used to talking to seniors,” added library board member and elementary school teacher Ruth Hewitt. “Kids don’t always know what to say, so having questions gives them something to talk about.”
As teatime came to a close, the students were asked what they learned in those few hours chatting with the Hillcrest residents. Answers ranged from where their table companions came from, to their interests and hobbies, to stories of some seniors seeing Queen Elizabeth in real life. And a personal discovery by many first-time tea drinkers, that Red Rose Tea is good.
Library director Elaine Dickie said she thinks the event, which has been going on for a couple of years now, went really well. With the festivities honouring the Queen’s celebration adding a little something extra, Dickie said she thinks everyone had a great time going through about 12 pots of tea.
“It was nice to have a focus for the celebration, with the Queen’s Jubilee,” she said. “It was a good learning experience for the kids, and very enjoyable for the seniors.”
Although the event is open to all seniors in the community who like to drink tea and indulge in friendly conversation, Dickie said those who are not with the Hillcrest group tend to be a on the shy side. She added she hopes more seniors who live outside the lodge attend next year.
“We’d like to get more seniors to come out,” said Dickie. “Just to enjoy talking with the kids and sharing their life experiences.”
A TV display about Queen Elizabeth and her Jubilee will remain at the library so the community can see the Queen is more than just the woman on our money, said Dickie. The information, including basic facts about the Queen, the history of the monarchy, and more about the Diamond Jubilee, is also available on the library iPads.
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