A Monster Birthday Party for a Wildman

I wish I had one of those houses where people could wander in at any moment. Instead, my house regularly looks like the floor of the Duggar family van after an extended road trip.

The most obvious solution to housekeeping woes is: invite guests. The social pressure to pretend you don’t get down to using serving spoons for the sugar bowl, or that you actually put dirty diapers in the trashcan is immense.

We had two rounds of guest, back to back. The first, friends, who we dragged out in the bitter cold to go hiking. Then, my Mother-in-law from Germany, who wanted to experience an American Thanksgiving. Bingo. Enter my family, who’s girth enables an excessive amount of holiday chaos. So we watched The Macy Parade, and squeezed into a waaay too small of house for 31 warm bodies and about as many dishes. On Friday, we went Black Friday Shopping–to Old Navy, that was sporting half-off everything. We got stuck in a traditionally-appropriate-Black-Friday-length-line next to a Chatty Cathy who, about six-months before, got inspired to do a home-dye-job, then immediately gave up the trend. Saturday, was party-day, and the pressure was on. My mother-in-law–bless her!–was such help. She cooked up the hamburger for me, stuffed candy into Crochet’d monsters and put stickers on tables. (Nothing says “Welcome to America” quite like cooking 10 pounds of sloppy joe meat.)

Sunday, we drove back up to Virginia, and Monday went to our favorite Christmas tree farm, Lowe’s. Tuesday, we drove down to Charlotte, where my Mother-in-law flew away home, to content herself with experiencing future American Holidays via The Family Stone and Miracle on 34th Street.

The big sign is for a future quilt--each invite included a  quilt square for the guests to contribute.

The big sign is for a future quilt–each invite included a quilt square for the guests to contribute.

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The culmination of 12 months of “chalkboard updates.”

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Monster Cake

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Smash cake. Hypothetically, as it never got smashed.

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My mother crochet’d these! They are filled with candy.

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The Chalkboard Progression

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These were supposed to have Twizzlers out the top. Guess who didn’t do a trial-run first. The Twizzlers were too short!

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You can only plan so much about a party…:)

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Quilt squares

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Quilt squares

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A Place at the Table

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Tonight we had hand-breaded chicken, corn, cold-pea salad, and cornbread stuffing. The kind from a box, but laced with dill, making it even nicer. If you can even imagine that.

I read that it’s good for children to eat dinner with the family around the table-gives them a sense of belonging. We eat dinner around the table…a table that spins, and people buy vowels off of. Sigh.

We do eat properly, now and then, and it’s warm and familial. Not so much tonight, since I was hangry, and Sawaya was trying to fix the speakers for the record player. Kingston likes to listen to “Yots of Chocayat for me to eat” on the record player. I’m so proud. (He also likes Aloe Blacc’s “I need a dollar” on YouTube. We keep him musically balanced like that)

Growing up, we always ate dinner together, all eight of us, the person sitting in the middle of the bench seat completely at the goodwill of his captors on either side. We ate rice flavored with margarine and soy sauce on blue plastic tupperware plates. We drank weak sweat tea. (My parents were from the North. We were lucky it was sweet.) We had to ask to be “excused.” Leftovers  from our plates went to the cat.

My in-laws, in Germany, eat together religiously. Sit down, have a glass plate on a place-mat. Have coffee in a carafe. Don’t scoop your food from the pots on the stove, dish from the food set on the table. Have a nice salad to polish off your hot dinner. When I think of my in-laws, I think of a place at the table.

One of my fears is being alone in this world. I’ve long had that fear, but have come recently to realize that until you grow-up, you don’t really understand what being alone is. Growing up, being loved by adults, being guided, being cared for, nagged, instructed, taught…we are surrounded by those who are invested in us. Through college, friend come, go, whirls of people every day in your life. As an adult, you come to rest, to rotate in a regular pattern that involve the same people. Your circle tightens, shrinks.

And suddenly you realize that there are only a very few people in the world that care deeply about the intimate details of your life. I have three. Three people.

There’s many more than that, because I am so very blessed, who claim me, who would stop what they’re doing to help, to listen, to pray. But there’s only three that care about the new sweater I bought, and the way I feel that day. When you think of that, and know that relationships change, people go, they die, they stop caring–then you know what it is to fear. That one day, you can buy a perfectly amazing sweater at a steal, or have the bluest of blue moments, and there will be no one.

what I’ve said before…