This past Saturday we hosted what has got to be one of my favorite nights of the past year: the Julia Child Dinner Party. I’d read her autobiography, My Life in France, earlier this fall, and was inspired to drown myself in butter, wine and garlic, even if just for a night. Five other friends, who each have a knack and a desire and a love of the kitchen, were invited; we each then provided one of the night’s courses [the recipe of which had to be Julia’s], a guest and a bottle or two of wine.
Nearly perfect, the night flowed seamlessly. My not-so-secret dream of living on a commune with all of my favorite people, eating an exquisite meal and doing life together, was made a reality for about four hours and 26 minutes. As if on cue, each cook then presented and served his or her Julia dish to the rest of us: with flare and pride both, woes and delights of the kitchen were told, ingredients were listed, new lessons were learned and then a toast was made, to the cook, to each other, to the food, to Julia. Together we did life well that evening, sitting around a table for 12, in the dim light of the taper candles and Saturday night San Francisco darkness.
But my favorite part was this: it was a no-apologies night. The rules of the night were simple:
3. Be Merry.
And then in parenthesis: and don’t make food apologies.
Yesterday I wrote about saying sorry to the Target lady – because let’s be honest, it needed to happen. So it’s only natural that today I write about its opposite: on not apologizing. On not saying I’m sorry. On not living under the confines of what we think we’re supposed to do or be, and then on not apologizing for that which doesn’t need an apology. Too often we get caught up in the colloquial, conversational language of saying I’m sorry, without realizing that really, we have nothing to be sorry about. Is it a flippant utterance of our tongues, or deep down inside, do we actually think that we don’t measure up, that next to this person, we lack something that they possess – some skill, some look, some whatever – that we therefore need to make our apologies for?
I say “we,” but I think really, I just mean “me.” And that’s what made Saturday night so beautiful: I didn’t need to apologize that I hadn’t swept or mopped the floor before these friends showed up. I didn’t need to say sorry that my Bouillabaisse de Poulet was a little more soupy of a main course that I’d thought it was going to be, or that Canon cried a little with the sitter in the background. Because dirty floors mean we’re living fully here, and soupy bouillabaisse means that it was still prepared with love, and a baby crying means that he’s expressing himself in the only way his little baby-body knows how.
So, cheers. Cheers to saying I’m sorry when we truly need to, and zipping our lips and not apologizing when we have nothing to apologize for. Cheers to being who we are and not who we’re not, and along the way, learning to believe that our present self and the gifts we offer, are good enough for the world around us. Cheers.0