If you know anything about me, I love a good party.
I love having people over. I love gathering friends, new and old, around the table. I love sending the kids down to the basement or outside to play in the yard, so the grown-ups can have five minutes of uninterrupted conversation. I love eating good food and drinking good wine and seeing memories formed when we humans come together in all of our beauty and all of our mess.
Almost two months ago, a couple of families rallied at our place for a back-to-school barbecue. Three of our boys would be in the same class, so it made sense for us to come together – even if some of us didn’t know each other very well yet.
But then, connections happened, because connections are bound to happen when we come together and share a meal.
That night, we communicated via text beforehand. Sometimes invitations are sent out over email; sometimes, if I’m feeling particularly fancy, I’ll use an online invitation like Paperless Post.
Main dish? Check. Side dishes? Check. Dessert? Check. Drinks? Check.
If I’m hosting I’ll often make the main dish (like flank steak with fig salsa, and salmon with a butter herbed glaze, as we ate that night). I’ll raid our refrigerator and cupboards for other side dish options, and generally stick to the rule of using what’s already in front of me. But really, I try and delegate as much as I can, because just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to throw a good party.
At our house, we pull out the paper plates and plastic silverware. This is a lesson I’ve learned from my husband, something he needs in order to throw a successful party. And sometimes, even if “eco-savvy” is your middle name, you also pick and choose your battles in marriage – which might just include an investment in items that go straight to the garbage can instead of the recycling bin.
And then, of course, there’s the house itself: when you walk through our front door, you might notice a couple of things. The floors probably won’t have been swept, let alone mopped. (Y’all, that’s an after-party chore). The dishes might be lying dormant in the sink (so do lend a helping hand at the end of the night). The table’s not going to be glamorously set, nor will dinner quite be ready to eat.
And believe it or not, that’s intentional. Because when you enter this place, you’re family.
You’re in. You are welcome in this place. So, please, act like the family that you are.
Because throwing a party isn’t about showing off your skills in the kitchen, but it’s about being together, eating together, sharing life together.
And when that happens, organically and naturally, it’s that much more beautiful. Soon enough, you find yourself in the driveway, racing scooters and Big Wheels down the slope.
Because no matter how the party ends, you’ve come together. You’ve shared life together. You’ve experienced the holy camaraderie of simply eating and talking with another human – and at least for me, that counts.
So, what can I say?
Be you. Extend the invitation. Say yes. Be your most real, messy self, because when it comes to throwing a party or going to a party, it’s you we want.
For you, my friend, are family.