An American Tea Lover

This is a story about an American tea lover. This is Sasha’s story. Even though Sasha may not be what you would generally think of as a stereotypical tea drinker, the face of the tea lover is changing every day.

Even though tea is the second most popular beverage next to water itself, the popular belief has, for a long time, been that a tea drinker is an English aristocrat. Someone who, leisurely, takes their afternoon tea in the library with a spread of cakes and pastries.

While in comparison, coffee drinkers were always considered the “regular folks”. The common man and woman, who worked hard for a living just to make sure their families had the things they need.

As time goes by the stereotypical face of the tea drinker is changing fast. However, in this case the face of this American Tea Lover is definitely not what you would expect. This tea lover’s name is Sasha, our 9 year old niece from Ukraine.

The war in eastern Ukraine has claimed more than 6,000 lives and left more than one million families without homes since it began in early 2014. As a result of the war tens of thousands of children have been forced from their homes in eastern Ukraine and many more are forced to continue living in areas close to the front lines.

Our niece Sasha was one of these children, living in the rebel-controlled city of Donetsk. To ensure her safety, her parents sent her here, to the United States, in August of last year to stay with family.

Unfortunately, her parents are still stuck in the war zone but they had to make the incomprehensibly difficult decision to split up their family just to ensure Sasha’s safety. A decision no parent wants to make.

Sasha is an amazing young lady. She is very smart, perceptive and kind. Most of all she is so grateful for the opportunity to experience the immense freedom and possibilities afforded by this great new land, the United States of America. Freedoms and possibilities that we, as natural born citizens, quite often take for granted.

With all four of our children grown and making their own way in life, Elena and I are so blessed to have this little angel around to brighten our home again. Sure, we are helping to keep her safe and providing for her, but she gives us so much more in the form of love and joy in return, we are the ones actually benefiting from this situation.

Our little Sasha is my shadow and my best buddy, I love to introduce her to American classic movies, music, books and anything else that is considered truly Americana. She is like a sponge, absorbing everything I say, and it is so cute to hear her repeat common sayings such as “I’m outta here”, “Howdy” and “See you later alligator” just to name a few. We have built such a strong bond, but to be honest it is easy with a person as sweet and open to exploring a brand new world as Sasha is.

As I said, Sasha is a tea lover. Actually, she is the biggest tea lover in the family, and mind you we live and breath tea with our business and in our personal life. For Sasha, tea drinking is a tradition that connects her with her mother and father which comforts her.

She will start her day with a morning cup of black tea with sugar and lemon and either an open face cheese sandwich or buttered toast, just like she did back home. In the evening, teatime is around 6 or 7, with tea brewed preferably from a samovar and with Sasha’s preferred semi-sweet bread, jam, sweet condensed milk, fruits and other delights.

This evening teatime ritual is very important to Sasha because it is the time when we sit down as a family and share our day with each other. She loves to teach me Russian and laughs at my “accent”.

This lovely little girl has no idea just how much she has given Elena and I, the absolute least we can do is to do everything in our power to repay her by keeping her safe from a world gone mad. To save a child’s innocence for as long as possible before she will be forced to enter this “adult” world.

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