High WASP Entertaining, The Family Gathering
At family gatherings, you will not offend anyone with incorrect signals. The language is shared. You may offend someone by calling them an effing princess, as I once did, or admitting that you don't like fruit desserts, but at least it's clear. Not murky. Devoid of anxiety. And more often, you will sit round the table and say things like, "Remember when we were in Mexico and the mariachi band played in the villa's living room and embarrassed us into silence and we ate all that food the cook made that we didn't even like?" You may all be amused at the tendency of New York Times book reviewers one year to use the term "luminous" in reference to prose, and wind yourselves up into uproarious laughter deciding which books were in fact, "matte."
In short, you are a family. In this, I imagine, much like any family. Comforting each other with shared experiences, thoughts, patterns.
One of my most dearly beloved family gatherings happened on a rare hot California night. Northern California almost always cools down at night, thanks to our marine layer. But a week or two every summer, it gets hot. This night, it was hot.
I cooked, as I always did. I don't remember what food. It was so hot, what with the night and the cooking, that someone said, "Let's take the dining table outside." We dragged my old french bread-making table outdoors. Also chairs. We pulled out the candelabra and the vase which was in fact a polo tournament trophy. Picked some flowers. Lit candles. Laid mats, and napkins, unmatched plates. There were a lot of us.
We ate dinner on the patio fully served. Sat around the table for much longer than usual, watching darkness come. Eventually just breathing. An enormous sense of well-being overtook me. Perhaps it overtook us all, except as High WASPs, no one said anything much more than, "Um, yes, well, nice fish. " Or chicken. We're health conscious.
Because at the end it's clearly just a family, sitting at a table, eating dinner, feeling love.
- Many of the goods above are from our friend TPP
- Yes, I noticed I said love without irony. It was difficult but necessary. It's the truth after all.
- You will also find this post at the wonderful blog, The Blushing Hostess, along with other posts on grace in everyday living