A Good Dinner Party

I have thought about a night like this since I held my sweet baby child in my arms twenty years ago. Tonight was the big payoff. My cup is beyond filled.

Something I love is hosting or attending an good dinner party. By “good” I mean the kind of gathering where you don’t leave the table for the entire evening. You have dinner, desert, coffee and then a round of snacks over engaging conversation and beautiful alchemy. At the end of the evening the heart, soul and belly are delightfully satisfied. 

I always wanted to share this love with my children. I loved my kids when they were little and I have been eagerly waiting to see who they would become as adults. Adults I could sit with at the dinner table and talk with and listen to for hours. Tonight was an evening I have played out in my head over the years. A floating abstract dream, holding it lightly so as not to get too attached. Tonight my dream came to life. 

I hosted a dinner party for my son (20), daughter (17), sister-friend’s* daughter (21), sister-friend’s daughter’s fiance (25), and sister-friend’s daughter’s best friend (21). I made a pot roast as requested by the fiance when I asked him what his favorite meal was for a thank-you-for-helping-me-dinner. The best friend was invited because she is leaving for Spain on Friday to be gone for a year. The kids grew up together with the exception of the fiance. 

I made the roast in the Instant Pot. The last time I made a pot roast was maybe 12 years ago if not more and I made it in an old school roasting pan in the oven. This was my most ambitious endeavor with my Instant Pot. It was made with potatoes and carrots from the garden. I used the thyme drying in the window, also from the garden. I was excited. 

The table barely fits in the dining area with both leaves up to seat six. Everyone fit but it was  a tight squeeze family style, pass the dish please. I made sure everyone used the bathroom before sitting at the table because getting up was going to be an ordeal once we all sat down. We all needed to be committed. 

I had enough plates that matched. All but one bowl matched the other bowls but they did not match the plates. The glassware is recycled from used up candles burned as samples at the store I work at. The forks and spoons don’t match but I have enough. I have two table knives and two steak knives. The six of us agree to share knives as needed. 

The entire menu was pot roast, green salad, tomato cucumber salad, warmed up store bought baguettes for soppings, a jar of pickled garden from last year and a bowl of nuts. Coffee as we cleared the table. Followed by strawberry rhubarb pie ala mode. 

I had dinner ready when they arrived. There was a bit of mingling in the living room as I put the finishing touches on the table. When we sat down for dinner, I engaged lightly but mostly observed and listened. Their laughter and joy filled the house. Inside jokes being formed that may last years to come. This is a new phase of life for all of us. 

For my kids and my sister-friend’s daughter there seemed to be a familiarity of growing up together as very young kids while also meeting each other again as adults as intimate strangers. Then there are two best friends about to be separated by an ocean in a time where that does not seem as far even though it really is. And the lovers, promising a future together with all that may bring. There are many stories to come from each of these people and how they may intersect with each other, or not, moving forward.  

After dinner we collectively cleared the table. Everyone gathered in the living room. Music was playing and conversation continued. I was engulfed with gratitude for the opportunity to stand at my kitchen sink slowly washing dishes by myself with the lights turned low listening to the beautiful song of my children’s voices, biological and chosen family, in the other room. This is the sweet spot. 

Sister-friend’s daughter and fiance left at a reasonable hour with the coming of the 5 am alarm clocks of the adulting world they now inhabit. The best friend also made her exit most likely not to be seen again until next year. My son lingered only a few minutes before we made our first parting as mutual adults – your home and my home are no longer one.  My daughter and I went about our night relaxing, writing, and online shoe shopping. 

  • sister-friend: my friend who knows me best like only a sister could.

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