Sunday, October 24, 2010

You Can Turn "Making Do" into "Best of All"

Sometimes we feel overwhelmed when reality comes crashing into our images of the perfect event we'd like to plan. Sometimes we don't even plan them assuming that our space or money or time constraints make such gatherings impossible. If you fit into any of these categories, please listen. I watch the same cooking and decorating and party planning television shows that you do. I've even pulled off one or two of those elegant events in my time. But I now have the advantage of age and hindsight and the events that I remember most fondly were the ones where heart was the most abundant commodity...the ones where friends and family gathered without the tensions of propriety and perfection.
Almost 20 years ago and recently released from the hospital into a wheelchair after a terrible accident, I was to host Thanksgiving, my favorite of all holidays. Unfortunately, since I couldn't navigate the stairs, our big bed had become the centerpiece of the living room/dining room. I suppose could have canceled but that has never been my way and I'm so glad I didn't.
If we could fit 17 people comfortably into such a small space, you can too. And, because the guests decided to help with dinner by each bringing a dish, the cost was inconsequential for each of us. Instead of mindless, small talk over pre-dinner cocktails, the men busied themselves with moving furniture about and fabricating my make-shift table while the gals organized things in the kitchen, tasting each others dishes and laughing about I don't know what.
My dining table was even too small to set up for buffet service. But, we solved that problem with a series of boxes and paint cans under the table cloth. The serving dishes were then staggered, like houses up a mountain, with their edges overlapping and the children got a kick out of decorating the "empty" spaces with mountains of kale and fresh harvest vegetables.
A sheet of plywood was placed across the foot of the bed in the living room and covered with a table cloth. To seat 12 adults, 2 long benches were brought in from outdoors, seating 6 adults along the 8' side and 3 chairs were placed at each end. (I had my lovely chair on wheels) The coffee table was moved to the dining area of the room and provided seating for the 4 children.
I can smell the turkey, the sweet potatoes and pumpkin pies and feel the warmth of that evening as I write this. There was a fire crackling in the wood stove, new snow on the ground, a moose wandering through the yard, giggling children, hot cider and more time spent around that table than any other before or since. It was my favorite of all Thanksgivings and it could have been among the very worst.
A couple of ideas that I came across recently include, removing a door to open up space and placing it on an ironing board to use as buffet space AND use two table runners along the edges of a table instead of placements or a table cloth.
Here are three links to additional small space entertaining ideas. Particularly, read the comments at link "one". ONE, TWO, THREE

So much of life's goodness is wrapped up in the attitude we bring to it. Of course, I wish you prosperity, but health and love and simple sharing are the keys to happiness and I wish you those things most of all. May you and yours be blessed as we move into this holiday season.

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