I had company last night. I made a pork roast in the crock pot, some scalloped potatoes, the homemade apple sauce made last autumn came out of the freezer, and a nice fresh chocolate pie together made for a nice meal. But more than that, it was reaffirming and encouraging to have friends in my home.
I've tried to keep a somewhat "normalcy" to my routine, despite the fact that my life will never be "normal" again as far as I'm concerned. But I want very much to move on and make a new life for myself, and a large part of that strategy is trying to do all the things I've always done and enjoyed. Some have been easier than others to accomplish but overall I think I've managed pretty well to do just that. Entertaining has been a big part of the effort.
My mother was a great entertainer. She loved having friends in for different celebrations and throughout my childhood I remember my parents having friends over on Saturday nights for dinner. I would hear the laughter floating up the stairs where we children were sent once the greetings were exchanged and we had politely said our hellos to whomever was arriving. I envied that "grownup" thing, entertaining and talking about grownup issues. And the laughter - always the laughter. So it was a natural thing to me to want to have people in to my home once I had my own. And I did.
I remember my first dinner party very well because I think I was overreaching a little. The first year of my marriage was spent establishing my relationship and being pregnant, so it wasn't until I had a two-month-old infant that I attempted my first one. I didn't quite anticipate how complicated that might be, and my husband and I spent the entire meal with a baby across one of our laps. She was not cooperative at all. Lesson learned.
After that I began to improve on my skills, but it took me years to relax and enjoy the process. For too many year I was uptight about the cleanliness of my house and how I might be judged. In time I learned that true friends don't care if there is dust on the mantel, and I also figured out that candlelight hides a host of things in its ambient glow. By the time I'd been doing it for twenty years I was finally enjoying every minute of it and company on Saturday nights became a regular part of our routine. Not every week, of course, but every few weeks we would gather friends and enjoy dinner around our little dining room table. Of course my dinner parties have never been as formal as my mother's, but that's a sign of the times. I remember my mother dressing in her nicest dresses, with lots of jewelry and make-up and everyone arriving the same way - suits and dresses and fancy accessories all around. The '50s and '60s were a bit more "dressy" than modern times and now my friends are more likely to arrive in corduroy and denim than silk and pearls. A little comfort is a nice thing! And I do like people to feel comfortable in my home.
Anyway, keeping that tradition alive has been a real gift for me this year. And last night reaffirmed my commitment to entertaining. The conversation and obvious affection of those around the table was affirming and wonderful and I went to bed feeling like my old self again. Then this morning when I got up and came downstairs to check my messages there was an email from one of the guests thanking me for the lovely evening. The last line, which I knew to be a word of encouragement and love, was :"Life can be good". I got the message. And indeed it can.