Monday, November 1, 2010

Party Hardy

(...or as we say in New England "Pahty Hahdy")

I come from a BIG family that loves to celebrate. “Eat, drink and be merry” is a motto we take very seriously. Whether it was a family picnic or a first communion or a graduation party, all of the festivities I can remember from my childhood featured tables ready to collapse from the results of many hours of labor in everyone’s kitchens. The food was wonderful and so was the company. At some point in growing up and owning a home and starting a family I forgot that it was the social part that was important. Yes, the food was amazing. But hanging out with my cousins and other relatives was a blast. We left every occasion thinking that we ought to do this more often.  
When my son Owen was born I pulled together a party to celebrate the day of his Christening. There were sandwich platters, pasta salad, potato salad, cole slaw, and all kinds of sweets made from scratch. All this while I had a newborn who nursed every two to three hours—he was born late (2 weeks), huge (9.8 lbs.), and hungry. I’m not telling you this to brag about my catering-while-sleep-deprived skills. I’m telling you this to illustrate how stupid I was. I never actually asked for help. And when I accepted the help that was offered I was less than gracious about it. Thank God my mother has thick skin and understands how psychotic a new mother can be. She would have been more than happy to help—she’s an amazing cook, a former caterer, and a retired Home Ec teacher. Did I ask her for help? Nope. See? Stupid.
This was the Christmas I decide to keep it simple by just having dessert. Psycho.

While clearing away the debris of our pre-trick-or-treating Halloween party this morning I reflected on how much more fun I have when I throw parties these days. It’s been eight (fast moving) years since Owen’s Christening and I’ve gotten much smarter—about entertaining anyway. It all started last spring. One of my fantastic neighbors held an Easter egg hunt for all the kids. They ordered a couple of big sheet pizzas and some calzones from a local take-out place. Someone made cupcakes and a few people brought beverages. No one stressed and everyone had a great time.
Owen’s First Communion was a few weeks off and I hadn’t planned a menu yet. While we were walking home from the egg hunt I said to him, “Hey Owen. How would
 you feel if we had pizza for your First Communion party?”
            “Great! From where?”
            “It’s your party. You get to choose.”
            “Yay! Papa Gino’s” he yelled.
            I ordered pizza and calzones and a cake. I made a huge salad and a few appetizers. I asked my mother to make up a fruit platter (she claims she isn’t creative but her fruit displays are works of art). I didn’t break my back or stress everyone out.
It isn't as fancy, but a call to the bakery is better than Valium!

            Something cool happened. No one missed my psychotic display of homemade goodness. Owen was excited we were having the food of his choosing for his party. We still ate, drank and were merry. I thoroughly enjoyed my little bear’s big day. I relaxed, drank wine and ate food that someone else made. Most of all, I got to enjoy the company of some of my favorite people—my family.