Monday, November 25, 2013

Party Hardly - Bubbly Addendum!

Whelp.  If those couple of personality tests I took in highschool and college are to be trusted (believe me, I was BARELY in the camp of any of the letters) then I am a Myers Briggs ENFP.

Thusly, according to this fun little libation-matcher, I am "Champagne."  Lucky, bubbly me.  I guess I do bring life to a party.  

So, if I'm champagne, I at least get to be from a lovely region of France (oui!!), pair nicely with lots of different things, and can be fancied up with some Chambord (read: make-up, jewelry or other finery) for a Kir Royale, my favorite, highly-nostalgic apertif.  

And you?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Party Hardly

I’ve come to realize that I’m generally a great party GOER, a terrible party THROWER.  Sure, I’ve had many a casual dinner gathering here at the house, hosted a few Valentines parties, New Years get-togethers and the like, but no one will ever put them down in the pantheon of “great parties.” If they do, it won’t be because of the amazing sides, killer atmosphere or flashy decor, but for the people and the conversation and the BYOB wine they drank. (And maybe the raucous piano and guitar sing-alongs)

November and December are festive-season central.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and most intimidatingly, my daughter’s birthday.  While Hadley is filled with joy and anticipation, I’m stewing over details like...what to do, who to invite, what to serve, when to gather.  My aversion to party-hosting is particularly acute for my kids because I love them so dearly I don’t want their birthday to suck.  Plus, I’m rather obsessed with things “working out” and making sure people have a good time, and aren’t disappointed, or overburdened.  I want them to think I’m creative and funny and with it and not completely lame because I buy a tray of nuggets and Publix cake for kid parties, or don’t have an awesome theme. 

I think I might have problems.  And I probably need to just be okay with my penchant for hosting “low-key” events.  

The thing is, I love a good party.  I will BRING the party, and maybe even food or wine, or an at-the-ready playlist of good tunes. Just don’t make me plan or host.  I’ve served as casual DJ at parties, been asked get the dancing going when everyone else is wall-flowering.  I’ll talk to strangers and enjoy connecting with people over small and big details (for a while, then that exhausts me).  I’ll bring the crazy white-elephant gift and whoop whoop when someone trades for the tacky boxers or the leg lamp. I’ll after-party with the bachelorette at a seedy dive-bar.  I may be exhausted afterward, but I'll enjoy it.  I think I might be an extrovert.

My friend Kristin is an AMAZING party host.  Her kid birthday parties are color-coordinated, fun, engaging, the food is adorable and kid-friendly and tasty.  There are marked glasses for adults, things on sticks in faux grass, seasonally appropriate decorations. There are games and beautifully packaged party favor bags for the kids.  I love that Kristin is just delights in that stuff. Its a beautiful thing. While I’m sure its a tiny bit stressful in the lead-up, she really loves to do it for her kids, and her friends, and we delight in it.   

The thought of getting together half the awesome stuff she does is purely exhausting to me, and doesn't seem enjoyable. 

So as my daughter’s birthday looms and the details remain unfinalized and I keep telling myself she’s just 4 and won’t care.  I just hope my friends and family know and love me enough to grant me grace about the poor party throwing thing.     

My babygirl is worth celebrating. Low-key throw-together or birthday-bash style, we’ll have lots of love.

And babyJesus is worth celebrating (which is why I’m really looking forward to GOING to a friend's Christmas party.) 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Veteran Story

Eleven. Eleven. A day we honor those who have served our country in times of war and peace,  those men and women who gave themselves over to something bigger than themselves.  My Dad is one of those people who joined the US army.  But Dad wasn't born in the US, he was born in East Germany.  Some of his earliest memories involve fleeing to the woods around their town to escape bombs dropped from American planes.  Yet he found his way to Uncle Sam's doorstep.  And ran into some future veterans along the way.

I think about this story on Veterans Day, about the first Americans Dad ever met - US servicemen.  (This excerpt is from his memoirs, multi-year project he and I have labored through together.)

"Eventually, all bombardments and artillery stopped, and the rain of bombs and fire was
replaced by hundreds of thousands of leaflets floating and fluttering peacefully from

allied planes. The leaflets advised residents to surrender and lay down all weapons and

receive the American occupation forces. Our neighborhood was covered with paper

and we scurried around to collect the excess as cheap firewood. All civilians were

also instructed to prominently hang out white sheets of surrender from their houses

and apartments. Each house in our neighborhood quickly sprouted a white bed sheets

tacked to one of the windows. For the sake of our lives, we did what we were told:

display a white flag of surrender or be prepared to die. Not all in our neighborhood were

supportive of the new occupation. There were more than a few die-hard Nazi supporters

in our neighborhood who hung their white flags under duress, with tears in their eyes.

However, the majority of us were more than glad to surrender with the symbolic white

flag if it meant that the bombing would stop and the war would be over. We just wanted

to start living life again, as normally as we could amid piles of destruction. Our dreams

were understandable, but how does a family, a community start living again when a

sizable part of the city lay in ruins, with no food, no jobs, no infra-structure,

no water, no electricity, no stores, no public transportation, and

few glimmers of hope?

A day or two after white flags bloomed from neighborhood windows, the first convoy

of trucks loaded with American infantry slowly moved into our neighborhood.

They stopped only fifty yards from our house at the end of the street where Bernie and I

happened be outside playing. We eyed them carefully and found that they looked very

friendly - not at all like the cruel enemy they were accused of being. There must have

been at least twenty of them on the first truck. With smiles on their faces, they waved

for us to come over. We cautiously approached the green-clad soldiers as they started to

unload the trucks. We were in fearful awe, as if toy soldiers and trucks from a strange

land had materialized in front of us. One of the soldiers jumped off the back of the

truck and grabbed my shoulder in a friendly way, as if I had helped him off the truck.

He smiled and said something to Bernie and I in English, which of course we did not
understand. But the language barrier quickly evaporated as he handed my brother

and I a chocolate bar and a stick of Wrigley’s chewing gum. We were delighted by this exchange in the international language of candy! We quickly devoured the treats,

savoring every sweet calorie in our sustenance-deprived tummies. The soldiers laughed
and smiled a lot, which, combined with their “peace offering” was just what we needed

to allay our fears that the Americans were a ruthless enemy. That short meeting at the

end of our street was a tentative but positive beginning to the American occupation of our

Dad's school picture in E Germany

Dad, United States Army