“What are you going to name your bear?”
“Elon. Elon Musk.
Oh the things that come out of the mouths of babes.
It is Gavin’s first teddy bear tea, and given the ear-to-ear smiles I see, it will not be his last.
We’re at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco where each family has paid $192 per person hoping to lock in that memory of a lifetime. They are all here for the 1 p.m. seating. A second soirée follows at four.
Mommies arrive with toddler daughters in matching fineries. These are followed by grandmas grasping hands with grandkids who check in with the hostess. So adorable too are the preschool gents with ill fitting bow ties. Then we step up next with 8-year old Gavin, the oldest boy in the room proudly wearing his red Xmas vest and spanking new dress shoes.
We get there 15 minutes early, and the double doors of the lower level are closed. However, wait staff stream about, catering to us adults with champagne and appetizers. A soldier lineup of Christmas trees flanking left and right await the guests. We pose with our charges and snap photos for the family calendar.
In the entry, Gavin hugs the giant stuffed teddy bear, and he almost drowns in the fluff. He’s my grand nephew, and I persuaded his grandmother May H., to allow me to introduce him to the world of afternoon tea.
When the double doors finally open, oohs and says ensue, for the ballroom is festooned with Nutcrackers, lights, Christmas trees, poinsettias, and red stockings. At each round skirted table, each family name is propped up high with a teddy bear for each young guest.
Gavin’s eyes are wide, wide, wide. We sit down and immediately a uniformed waiter comes up to him, bends down , and asks, “Sir, would you like some hot chocolate?” Shy Gavin nods, and the kind man pours the hot beverage out of a silver carafe into the white teacup. Gavin sips and grins sheepishly.
Meanwhile, May and I gaze at the settings – an automated snow globe blowing flurries with a snowman inside, greenery, tea light candles. Instead of tiered trays , we receive individual plates of tea treats. Gavin gets his children’s plate that includes a polar bear cookie, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and other delights. Munching on his sandwich he says what every grand aunt longs to hear: “You’re the best!” I think he is enjoying himself.
Meanwhile, we adults indulge in scones, cucumber sandwiches, salmon mousse sandwiches, and assorted carbs that will rush to our waistlines.
As the musician plunks out piano holiday tunes, two tall elves make their appearance, visiting table to table. These are the beautiful Mistletoe and Tinsel who, with high pitched voices, descend on Gavin to ask how he’s doing and what he wants for Christmas. They giggle in unison. They ask him to help during the Christmas singing performance, and he agrees.
The program commences, the elves read “The Night Before Christmas” to children now huddled on a carpet in front of the stage. Later, the elves dance and sing, inviting Gavin and two little girls to come up to strut their stuff. Santa and Mrs. Claus are not part of this affair, for we are told they are wrapping gifts to get ready for the holiday.
By now two elf-filled hours have ticked by. Each family departs with a paper card stock framed photo that includes Mistletoe and Tinsel. As we step outside the double doors, a candy table awaits with clear jars to gummy chews, hard candies, and more. families are invited to take a clear cellophane bag and scoop up their favorite sweets. Everyone waves goodbye to Mistletoe and Tinsel and thanks the scores of servers who have treated their young guests with honor.
Upon boarding my car to journey home, all of us sigh with weariness. I turn around to see our little guy snuggling with Elon.
“So Gavin, what was your favorite part of the tea? The elves? Going on stage? Talking to Mistletoe? The story? The candy?”
“Nope. The hot chocolate.”
Oh, the wisdom from the mouth of babes.
For reservations, log onto Ritzcarlton.com.