Okay, so all the goals I set on Sunday weren’t quite as realistic as I’d hoped. The rest of the day was spent gradually shedding and revising plans, breathing deep and letting go.
The biggest setback was when I discussed with hubby whether or not we should buy some ham or something in case there wasn’t enough turkey to go round (I don’t eat heaps of meat so am not the best judge of these things). He then got the idea of roast lamb stuck in his head so decided to take it upon himself to contribute that to the feast.
No problem. It can be done alongside the baked veggies. Of course this means another person running around the kitchen but I can adapt. This is about family and friendship and fun – not some dictator ordering everyone around trying to make it all perfect, right?
Then the clock kept ticking and the kids were needing attention while I was still de-cluttering the kitchen and washing dishes. No problem! Let’s do some tidying together.
Cue squabbling over spray bottles and the bathroom floor ending up drenched and baskets of toys upended in the living room as forgotten playthings are rediscovered.
I asked husband to be in charge of tidying the living room so the kids will all have space to play together, while I tackled the bathroom inbetween food prep activities (that are now more complex as I have to choreograph my movements around him, not that I’m annoyed or anything).
Hubby reminded me that he wanted to try his hand at the mulled wine this year. No problem! One less thing for me to worry about, right? Then he begins sampling the wine and enjoying himself – and losing all concept of time and stopping for frequent chats.
I love this guy, quirks and all. It’s not like I’m keeping to my own ideal timetable either. Let’s slow down, enjoy ourselves. So what if he’s digging out candles for the table and taking his sweet time zesting those oranges rather than neatening the living room? Our friends love us even though we’re the messy, disorganised people we are and OH CRAP IT’S 3PM ALREADY AND I HAVEN’T STARTED ON THE SOUP OR QUINOA YET! PEOPLE WILL BE TURNING UP IN AN HOUR!!
I put on the quinoa to boil while I tidy the kitchen sink and gather up ingredients for the soup and crumble. I’m starting to think we might just do poached apple and pear with the ice cream – and then realise that time constraints mean we’ll be trying to poach fruit, mull wine, AND make soup at the same time. Our stovetop isn’t big enough for that.
You know what? There’s more than enough food as it is. I’ll just drop the soup altogether. Once my friends add the bread rolls and salad they are bringing as contributions we’ll have an impressive enough spread without it.
Good-o. I’ll just give the bathroom a quick once-over (thankfully it’s pretty clean anyway) and go check on the living room – which is still a complete mess.
I grab an empty basket from the kids’ room and start throwing handfuls of toys into it, fuming the whole time. I’m so sick of being the only person who cares about this shit! I think to myself. How can the kids play with their friends in all this chaos? Where are people even going to SIT?!
“Mum can you get me some sparkly water?” My oldest asks, eyes not leaving the TV while she completely misses how cranky I am.
“Why?” I yell.
She looks at me, startled.
“I have repeatedly asked you two girls AND your father to clean up this room today and none of you have done a DAMN thing! Our friends will be here any minute!!”
A chorus of sorrys follows while I continue slamming things into the basket. Suddenly I realise: I just turned into my mother.
“Well, if you’re happy with the current state of the living room that’s fine with me.”
I put the full basket in their room and go back into the kitchen. “Sorry hon. I’m trying hard not to stress out but it all boiled over.”
“You could have talked to me about it first.” he huffs over a saucepan.
WHAT?! How many times do I have to gently suggest that cleaning the living room is more important than starting the mulled wine before you take it seriously?!!!
“Well I didn’t want to come off like I was nagging. Could you finish up in there when you get a chance though?”
We have a quick hug and I start chopping up apples while he does more tidying up. Minutes later one friend arrives with her daughter, along with a salad AND a bonus container of homemade chocolate macaroons.
It’s decided: poached apple with ice cream and macaroons for dessert.
Now that things have been simplified I relax some more and chat and sip wine. The girls run around excitedly and play dress-ups while hubby and I finish setting up the kitchen and thickening gravy and stuff. We have five adults and four kids altogether so I set up a play table as the “kids table” separate from the grown ups.
It’s the first time I’ve ever done that since having kids! REALLY felt weird being on the “adults table” side of the equation but the kids loved having their own space. It was an unexpected rite of passage. *sniffle*
And I must say, the dining table did end up looking rather smashing with all of hubby’s tweaking.
(Excuse the spilt quinoa – Miss 6 got in there before I took the photo and I decided it should stay rather than be prettied up!)
Everyone agreed dinner was delicious (well, all the adults anyway. The kids probably would’ve done better with the potato and leek soup and were too excited to do more than graze). The mulled wine was warming and flavoursome, and with relatively low alcohol content could be quaffed with abandon.
Best of all? The ice cream turned out SO WELL! I was pretty proud of myself (don’t worry, the recipe is coming right up).
From front to back: ice cream, poached apple, macaroon. The poached apple wasn’t so great, but 2 out of 3 ain’t bad at all.
All told it was a super fun night. Plus we’ve managed to build on the cleaning momentum a little for the last couple of days and kept the darn living room nice and clear. I even sorted through some clutter boxes yesterday – and actually threw out some stuff. Totally giving myself props for that.
Next year? Get all the cleaning done the day before and simplify the menu from the outset (preferably including more kid-friendly stuff). Considering things went more smoothly than last year I feel confident that I’ll totally nail it next time.
I mean, with another year to plan things how could I not? Right?