I love entertaining. I don’t know whether I inherited it from my mother, who also loves throwing a good party, or whether it just gives me the excuse to wear frivolous shoes in the dead of winter when I don’t have to leave my own house, but I love hosting guests. I adore planning the menu, shopping for ingredients, and cooking for an audience that’s usually more appreciative than my kids (although Mr. Wonderful adores all my food, the young’uns aren’t quite as culinarily adventurous yet).
It’s been really hard, as I’ve gotten sick/well/sick/well over the past few years, to have to pass off hosting duties to other people. I’ve been lucky enough that some of my mother’s visits have coincided with social events at my house, in which case I’ve relied, in varying degrees, on her shopping, cleaning, and cooking assistance. But for the most part, I’ve had to let numerous gathering opportunities slip by. I just didn’t have the stamina for prepping the house, kitchen, table, bar, appetizers, etc., to be guest-worthy. And I wasn’t willing to let my standards drop.
We had a big New Year’s Day Open House this year, a big drop-by-whenever food-and-drink extravaganza that strikes me as the best kind of party for the current commitment-phobic party-goer. It was amazing, with lots of friends from different walks of our lives, hordes of kids, plenty of delicious food and Champers all afternoon. But the set-up took a few days, with the cleaning and all, and clean-up (thanks in no small part to Mr. W again) a couple days afterwards. I just don’t have the endurance to throw big-time shindigs as often as I want.
This weekend, we had some friends and their kids over for dinner on Saturday night. They’re good friends, our kids are all great buddies, and I know they’re casual folks. And although I ran the vacuum before they came, and made the little ones put away their stuff (aren’t parties great for clean-up impetus?), I stopped caring about the dust bunnies under the couch, or the piles of stuff on “my” end table. I was content to serve dinner on paper plates, and the condiments (salsa, sour cream) out of their containers with spoons. I think I might have gotten over the mortal fear that I would be judged on not decanting everything into little serving bowls, and accepted the fact that not using every dish in the house is, in fact, a worthwhile excuse for wrapping the tortillas in foil.
I can either expend my somewhat limited daily ration of energy preparing a delicious meal for my friends, or I can waste it worrying that anyone will notice that, behind the closed shower door, it’s maybe been a couple of days weeks longer than White House standards probably dictate since I’ve scrubbed the tub. And that’s just ridiculous, seeing as how I have a much better time hosting a party than cleaning my porcelain.
So the next time you come for dinner/brunch/a cookout at my house, you should be honored to have been asked. It means that not only do I love you enough to want to cook for you, but I trust you and the depth of our friendship enough to realize that you don’t love me for my table-setting prowess, and you’ll be my friend with or without the cobwebs across the recessed lights. Bon appétit!
Photo courtesy bonappétit.com