When my parents left the expanding resort town of Hilton Head Island in 1985 they chose as their new settlement a beautiful acreage an hour away just west of a tiny town called Yemassee. And that is a story for another day.
While Mom and Dad were "starting over" in a new home. The oldest three siblings were already living on our own. Number 4 sibling was 16 years old and was still home and "starting over" at a new high school to complete his education. But the BIG "starting over" that came with the move was the fact that my parents had just given birth to a "late life" baby after 16 years of no infant. And THAT is a story for another day also. Suffice it to say that we were thrilled!
So with all of that change happening there emerged an addition to my Mom's daily schedule. I don't know when any one of us realized that it was happening regularly, or that it had developed a regular schedule, but within the first few years a pattern emerged.
Mom would complete her daily routine of caring for a little one, unpacking, cleaning, raking leaves, laundry, etc. and then, she would switch gears. Around 4 O'clock, before she would gear up for the evening meal time, she would make a pot of coffee and sit down to relax for a bit. It wasn't a big announcement and it didn't seem all that planned. But before we knew it we were all sitting down to have a cup of coffee at 4 o'clock in the afternoon.
I don't know exactly when we began to call it "4 o'clock Coffee," but it just came to be. It often included dessert of some kind, frequently my Mother's wonderful Pound Cake, or around the Holidays there would be a veritable smorgasbord of sweets.
And thus was born, our favorite family tradition - "4 O'clock Coffee." It has been adopted by all of us and some of our friends. The Grandchildren have taken it off to their colleges and universities and turned their dormitories into little "4 o'clock coffee" cafes.
Everyone that gets to know us at any level begins to understand that they can stop by Mom and Dad's home at 4 O'clock and be assured of a fresh pot of coffee, dessert and some friendly conversation. In the Spring, Summer and Fall Coffee Time is almost always on the front porch of their home - and on the cold days we stay at the kitchen table. But always, and every day there is coffee.
It is a delightful tradition and one that my children look forward to every day. It will not be quite 3 o'clock and my children begin asking, "Are we going to "4 o'clock?" - as though it were a place and not just an hour! But it is a place - It has become a place in our hearts. Wherever we go, whether at our homes, our university, or travelling by ship or roaming the streets of Paris - at 3:30 we begin to look forward to that hour when we will sit and drink coffee and enjoy some quiet or some conversation with those we love. You would be amazed at how it resets the rest of the day!
P. S. You are welcome to join us any day!