For years I have been hesitant to hold any social gatherings at my house, thinking it’s such a wreck and so small that it doesn’t lend itself to an easy flow for traffic. Our former house, a bungalow near Centennial Park, was set up perfectly for parties, and we did quite a few (mostly kids’ birthday parties after we had children, but there was a day when we invited Sunday school classes over to our house for dinner parties, etc.). Our living room and dining room were huge; the rest of the house, not so much.
When we moved to our current house in 2004, I was drawn in by the wood paneling in the kitchen (takes me back to younger days), captivated by the arch between our living room and the dining room, loved the red flocked wallpaper look of the dining room (which we have never used as a dining room but as a multipurpose room…at one point it became our guest bedroom, so we blocked the arch with the china hutch…I never liked it that way, but it provided a little privacy for anyone unlucky enough to stay overnight at our house. We had a full house then with both our children at home and no guest bedroom. The guest bedroom morphed into John’s office for a couple of years, then back into a guest bedroom.)
This weekend we moved our china hutch back into its proper place in the dining room. We have a little bit of work to do in the dining room to make it look more like a dining room rather than just a room with random furniture placed about. I think the arch from the living room to that room will make us pay attention to the looks of the dining room, and eventually we’ll get it where we want it.
We had a game night on Sunday (it being a holiday weekend) and invited 3 couples over. One couple couldn’t come due to wanting to watch 2 football games. That turned out to be just as well, as our kitchen table seats only 6 comfortably.
Here are some signs that I am letting go of much of my perfectionism:
* I decided to take a chance and invite people to our house, knowing that it wouldn’t be quite like I wanted it to be, but realizing that if we didn’t start stepping out in courage and inviting people over, we would miss many opportunities for deeper relationships.
* I didn’t think through the menu very well, considering our dishes. I decided that chicken tortilla soup would be a good entree, and I didn’t have a whole lot of time available on Sunday to cook, considering that our choir sang for a 2:00 memorial service, and it was one of those occasions I felt I needed to be part of.
* As John and I scurried about the house, straightening up, dusting, vacuuming, etc., I realized the kitchen floor needed mopping. This was about an hour before guests were due to arrive. So I did a quick swipe of the kitchen floor (as John went around with a broom and worked on sticky spots).
* Our first guests arrived before I had finished setting the table. As I pulled out the dishes, I realized, to my horror, that we had only 5 matching plates but an overabundance of soup bowls. Also not enough matching silverware (we have a conglomeration of my stainless, my mom & dad’s stainless, and some other stainless collected over the years). Oh well, no big deal. Then there came the matter of glassware. We had two crystal glasses in our cabinet and four crystal glasses that almost matched in our china hutch. Again, I figured no big deal. At least they were the same color: clear.
* The first to arrive helped set the table, sort out the most matching silverware (from our dishwasher and the silverware drawer), and generally prepare the layout for our very formal (ha-ha) dinner.
* I realized later in the evening that I had asked one guest to bring an apricot cake, thinking that was her specialty, since I’d bought one at a cake walk at work. Then after conversation I realized that she had never made an apricot cake, and she probably wondered why in the world I asked her to bring one. (This communication took place by e-mail, so she didn’t ask me if she could bring another dessert.) Oh well, that was okay…I also had never made the soup that we served for dinner. It turned out to be a little bland, but it was passable. Guess I should forget about trying new, untested recipes (and adding my own twist) with dinner parties.
* John and I had just a few “words” before the party. He said, “This is why we don’t invite people to our house more often.” To which I replied, “I’m not bent out of shape; I’m just ‘focused’ on what we need to do.” We had our typical exchange of “do this,” both of us trying to be in charge. It was rather comical, in retrospect. After 32 1/2 years we still struggle over who’s the boss when it comes to certain situations. If I’d learn to bite my tongue and say “Yes, dear” (and I have done that on a few occasions lately), there would be less tension. But John also can say those words, even through gritted teeth. Enough about the intricacies of marital communication!
* Despite all the bobbles, I think everyone who came over had a good time. We played the original edition of Trivial Pursuit. I thought I would be on the winning team, joining two women with PhDs. At first we were ahead, getting the first wedge in our playing piece. But alas, the other team got the EASY questions AND luck was on their side. Next time we will get the box with the easy questions!
* I was amused by one guest who borders on OCD. Before we started playing, she wanted to rearrange all the cards in the boxes because they were turned every which way. (I told her she could come over and help me organize our house anytime.) We did get all the cards turned the same way (I guess the random turning of the cards before was just a sign of our family, of which three members have ADD), and life was good. I thought I would burst into laughter watching this same guest when someone on the other team put a wedge in the playing piece upside down (something that has bugged me greatly in the past). I was waiting to see how long it would be before she mentioned it. I think it drove her crazy for about 10 minutes before she finally said something. That was comical!
Now that we have our house somewhat in order (there’s always progress to be made), maybe we’ll start inviting folks over more often. It’s good for people to see how the other half lives…those who don’t have the trendiest furniture, decorations, and just barely manage to keep their heads above water when it comes to having a neat and tidy house. My motto for 2015 is “Never postpone joy.”