Tuesday, May 25, 2010
We had dinner with our friends, John and Jack last weekend and it was a wonderful evening. Good food, good drinks and good company. The whole flow of the evening really made me think. They are a couple that have been together for about twenty five years and are a wonderful host team. John is a fabulous, instinctive cook. Jack doesn't cook at all. While John is putting the finishing touches on dinner, Jack serves the drinks and entertains. The group flowed back and forth between the living room political discussion and the kitchen prep (guess where I spent most of my time). John comes out to have a drink or two while things take care of themselves in the kitchen. It is just such an easy, effortless looking flow - welcoming and gracious and low stress. I wonder if Mr. Kim and I entertain like that and HOPE that we do. But it is something to try to pay attention to. John also served a COMPLETELY demolished Bundt cake that came out of the pan in about 40 pieces. We all laughed and then proceeded to eat every delicious crumb. I know for a fact (because it has happened) that I would never have the grace to do THAT. That cake would have ended up in the back yard for the birds and I would have been at Wal-mart at 3am buying a cake mix.
I think that we need to pay attention when we are feeling well taken care of and comfortable. In the first place, to be grateful for it and appropriately appreciative. But also - TO COPY IT. The things that make you feel comfortable will make others feel comfortable and welcome and are well worth stealing. I've always dreamed of having a big enough house to have a DEDICATED guest room. The kind that is ONLY a guest room - not an office/sewing/craft/junk/guest room. A place with lovely linens, good reading lights, drawer and closet space, lovingly chosen books and magazines and even a tray with a bedtime snack. I envision something that would make my guests know how much I value them and make them want to stay forever. When we put guests in our room and we sleep in the family room on an air mattress (or WORSE, when they totally refuse to dislodge us and THEY are on the -slowly leaking- air mattress), I always think that they must feel that they have discommoded our lives and that they are a nuisance instead of the treasured and welcome guests that they actually ARE.
But a simple dinner party gives you the same opportunity to be gracious and welcoming. If the kitchen is a wreck and I am stressed and rushed, I can't blame my guests for wondering if they are a bother or, if indeed they were expected at all. I am pretty good about cleaning as I go now that I am a grown up (Momma will attest that that was NOT always the case), but I often meet guests with no makeup and hair scraped back with a hairband. One look at my pale, blotchy face and lank hair and my guests can certainly tell that time ran out on me.
When we visited my dear friend Rachel and her husband Chris last year, we were included in their family Sunday brunch. They had a houseful - including a VERY active toddler and almost everyone in the house was cooking something. All I can remember is feeling welcome and loved and relaxed and being charmed at the family tradition of turning the music LOUD and dancing around the kitchen. Chris was carving his gorgeous ham, Caro was arranging her cheese tray, Son was taking his incomparable Sweet Piggies out of the oven, Rachel was everywhere, we were setting tables, getting chairs, Grandchild was interested in everything and everyone and Joe Cocker was wailing and we were swaying and dipping and tapping. And I was as impressed and enchanted by this day as I was by dinner at John and Jack's. They both gave me something to aspire to and to remember when I am welcoming folks to my home.