Ground Rules

The nonstop motion of the last week was rewarded by a great dinner with a wonderful group of friends and family.

I thought the moral of the story was going to be along the new-agey lines of “envision the outcome you desire and it will be so” and actually, having prepared how I was going to handle the usual source of friction (yes, I know, I am weird for not wanting anyone to help clear the table), it never came up. I’m not sure why preparing for the worst guarantees that you’ll never need to use that preparation, but it seems to work that way.

The real reminder that this is life, and life seems to have an aversion to following plans, lay in the schedule. The goal when I throw a dinner party is to so totally master the mechanical aspects that they run effortlessly in the background, with every detail and need attended to while I focus on the purpose of the event – building relationships. I’m not sure that has ever happened as planned, and tonight was one of the more spectacular failures in that regard. The schedule was thrown off by unusual circumstances and last-minute guests; the appetizers arrived an hour after the start time; everything took longer than it was supposed to and recipes were re-written as they were being made. Dinner was served an hour late – and the significance of that is highlighted by the fact that I was mildly irritated that I served Thanksgiving dinner a mere 10 minutes late last year.

When things go wrong on that scale, it’s easy to fret about it, lose confidence, and doom the dinner. I didn’t. I just accepted that everything was out of my control except my attitude; the only thing I could do was keep moving forward. The few times I passed through the living room I could hear the healthy conversation among the men, and was pleased I had a much higher male-female ratio than usual to provide a good group for them. The women congregated in the kitchen. For once I accepted help, and over the cheery tasks of whipping cream and tasting sauces we discussed our latest creative projects.

Would I have preferred to serve dinner on time? I would. There are several things I’ll know to do differently next time. But in the end, everyone had a good time. Which I seem to recall was the point of the whole exercise.

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