Yesterday was the 1st time I’ve hosted a holiday dinner alone. Before my marriage I lived alone and accepted others’ invites, so no stress there. Once married, my ex, the Chef, did the cooking for holiday meals. Last year, the first round of holidays post separation, my parents and cousins bailed me out, my cousins having my family over for Thanksgiving, and my parents showing up for Christmas. My mother is a tremendous cook, and her presence gave me peace.
Yesterday I was finally on my own. While it was a small group, I did a great job and, most importantly, with no stress! It was fantastic to be doing it on my own. I set my own schedule, I did things the way I wanted, I prepared the dishes I do well and, despite a bit of a turkey emergency (it took forever to cook!) my meal was fantastic. As I look back over the day, and the week leading up to it, I realize how stressful it used to be entertaining with my ex and how pleasant it will be without him! I can honestly say I am a competent, easy going, successful hostess, something I never felt before. It was pretty awesome.
The things I’m most grateful for are:
- Fall foliage. I decorated my table with greens & berries from the great outdoors. Thankfully, the nursing home did not have me arrested while I cut berries off of their tree. A tight budget breeds innovation!
- Yoga. Yes, I started my day with a vinyassa class that included live music. It was beautiful, just the right amount of a workout, and it started my day with a feeling of peace and serenity.
- My boys. They came home from Thanksgiving with their dad and seemed genuinely happy to be home. They helped me finish the turkey, make the gravy and get the food on the table. With No Stress or Angst!
- My relatives who came, brought extra wine, and some delicious side dishes, and were gracious and fun.
- Target. Yes, this is not the mainstream attitude right now, but because of Target my boys did all the dishes. What, you ask? They were dying to get to Target to buy a video game, they knew I would never let them just leave, so they concocted the plan to clean all the dishes, then sneak out while I chatted with my Aunts. It was genius. I got a clean kitchen, they got their video game, and no one was upset.
- Vodka. OK, here’s the dirt of the day. I went to yoga early, and I left the boys a list of a few small tasks to do before they left for their dads. I got home from Yoga feeling great and, as soon as I walked in the house, knew the tasks had gone undone. After shooting them a seething text, calling my sister to vent (threatening to cancel Christmas and various other outrageous threats) I had one of my favorite vodka drinks. It was past noon, so……
- Guilt. Yes, the boys felt guilty. This clearly played a part in their gracious, helpful behavior during the evening. Guilt is a highly overlooked parenting tool; it works wonders.
- Love Actually. My oldest put the soundtrack from Love Actually on during dinner. This is one of my favorite sound tracks, and it kept the mood festive and light, without overt references to Christmas to stress people out.
- My sisters used silverware. When my ex moved out, he presented me with his “settlement offer” in which he highly inflated the value of the contents of our home. I realized that he intended to include the value of the silver service my grandmother gave me, which, while worth a fair amount of money, is a priceless family heirloom to me. I gave the silver to a family member to keep it safe. As I pondered getting ready for the holidays, I realized I didn’t have enough silverware. Fortunately, my sister had given me an old set of everyday silverware that she no longer used, with the intent that I would give it to one of my boys when they move out. So, thanks to her, I had enough silverware!
- Gratitude Quotes. I get all of my best ideas from others. At my yoga studio the owner has a basket of various quotes expressing gratitude, and after each class she would offer the basket for Yogi’s to pick a quote to carry with them. I did the same and, as we finished eating, I passed around the bowl and had each person pick a quote to share with the group. Did they make light of it? Yes. Did they make up silly quotes before reading the actual one? Of course. Did they roll their eyes? You Bet. Did they then read the actual quote? Yes.
For that, I am forever grateful. On that note, I’ll finish this post with my favorite expression of Gratitude. Thank you Melodie Beattie.