Getting there

Getting there

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Wasn't That A Party?

In September we moved into a new house. It was quite the adventure, selling our old house, buying a new house, the move - all a very long story, and in it's own way a story of fate and dreams that seem meant to be. After we moved in we began to discuss holding a housewarming party - and this is where I must make an admission. I am a reluctant hostess. It is not that I don't love a good party - in fact, I like nothing better. What I find, though, is that being the hostess of such an event causes me distress.

I worry about running out of food and alcohol (this has never happened, incidentally, and we always end up with both to spare). I worry that the guests won't have a good time, that they will be bored and think it's all quite tedious. I worry they will think the food is awful. Frankly, I just worry.

We postponed the party for a couple of months - with our holiday in England and Ireland and work and other commitments it was easy to put it off. We had kept telling people, though, that we would hold it soon and I realized that if we didn't do it quickly calling it a housewarming would be a terrible misnomer, and we would just have to call it "a party for no reason at all". Don't get me wrong - I wanted terribly to hold the party, but my nervous hostess side kept nattering at me. I wondered, too, why we even hold housewarming parties. Do we do it to show off? Perhaps some do, but that's never really been my style. Do we do it to show our friends our new house? Yes, but we could have them over in lower numbers for a nice dinner to do that. Is it just an excuse to have a party? What, really, is a housewarming? Why do we do it at all?

I put all the questions and doubts aside, and we spent two weeks getting ready. We bought a case of champagne (both the good stuff for early in the evening and the plonk for later on when the guests wouldn't know the difference). We invested in champagne flutes. We bought beer, and gin, and Irish whiskey. I made shooter glasses of ice to use when the crowd was sufficiently inebriated to make holding on to a glass made of ice a challenge. I bought food in abundance, sliced strawberries for champagne, and cleaned the house, top to bottom. And then last night we waited for the guests to arrive.

The evening began in my kitchen with a few friends, mostly new ones who we don't know well yet. We shared glasses of champagne, began in on the food, and started conversations. The evening quickly picked up speed as friends continued to arrive, bearing gifts of alcohol and houseplants. There were tours of the house, games of darts in my husband's office, and the telling of stories. At one point the kitchen was so crowded it was almost impossible to move. As the evening wore on the crowd ebbed and flowed as some arrived and some departed, and the stories became more raucous as the champagne disappeared and the Irish whiskey bottle was emptied. The ice glass shooters came out and added to the general chaos as friends clutched them desperately, trying to hang on to the slippery little devils full of liquor.

At midnight the family dog was the first one to give in. I found her curled in her kennel, staring at me, waiting for me to close the door and put her to bed as she was weary of people who smelled funny, were talking oddly, and had begun to sway a bit. At two or so my eleven year old daughter gave up and asked if she could go to bed (honestly, I thought she already had). A little later my husband disappeared and fell asleep in a chair downstairs, exhausted by a busy week at work and an evening of entertaining.

It was now almost 3 am. I was in my kitchen, now a scene of empty champagne flutes, errant crushed strawberries on the floor, and melting ice shooter glasses. There were only a few of us left. There were new friends about whom I knew little but was enjoying learning. There were older friends who I realized I didn't know very well but had begun to see a little more of their soul as the alcohol allowed them to share some deeper parts of themselves. There were a couple of friends who long ago ceased to be friends and had become family - a best friend who has become a sister, and a man who was originally someone my husband met through work but entered our lives just after my father died and thus became like a grandfather to my daughter.

I looked around the kitchen island, and saw not guests, but friends and family. I realized that every single person who had come had enjoyed their evening in our house, and had shared with us their time and their stories. Even more, though, I realized why we hold housewarming parties. It's not to show off, and it's not even to show our friends our houses. It's not just an excuse for a party. It's because until we fill a house with family and friends and laughter and stories it's just a house. It only becomes a home when you have filled it with those people, old and new, who have chosen to spend their time and parts of their lives with you. So, to all my family and friends who came and who drank, who ate and who laughed, who told stories, poured champagne, and fought with ice shooter glasses - thank you. Thank you for helping make a house into a home. You are always, always welcome here, and this song is for you....

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