Twas’ an hour before the big Easter dinner and all through the house, not a creature was stirring except me as I was finishing all the cooking and baking. The stockings were hung, er, folded, carefully along with the rest of laundry mountain that had recently been cut down to size.
We had reached the peak of holiday preparation, the pinnacle of bated breath and “any minute now” perfection. The house shone. The floors were swept, the pillows were plump, the air was fresh. All was peaceful and well in Holiday Host World. Everything was “perfect.”
As if on cue Mr. Wonderful chose to restring a fishing pole in living room. Naturally. In another corner one small wonder decided to sprawl on the oh-so-perfectly arrayed sofa. Tossing all the pretty blanket throws and pillows, he arranged them in a slumped pile on the floor.
Someone turned off the soft jazz that was playing for ambiance in favor of something loud on TV. My other small wonder removed the candles and decorative tray from the coffee table to make room for a craft involving glitter and glue.
Never mind that we were due to eat shortly, one (usually the youngest, cute one) wandered into the kitchen to forage for a snack. Crackers are always a good choice as they provide optimum crumb scatter in the shortest amount of time. The only thing that would make a bigger mess would be raw oatmeal or bread crumbs. I wouldn’t put it past them not to decide on one of those just for the challenge.
Finally, the crunch of gravel announced that our guests had arrived. This was the signal for someone to race to the guest bathroom as if on a mission. Their sole purpose appears to have been to lift the toilet seat, wet all the towels, and leave at least one cabinet door open. Classic overachievers, they went the extra mile and spit toothpaste into the sink.
This is where I interject the fantastic family anecdote about the time Mr. Wonderful showered in our guest bathroom shortly before a big party. Hours later, at the end of what I felt was a fairly successful social event, my best friend took me aside to ask, laughing, if the men’s underwear hanging over the guest towel bar was a joke or some kind of a statement? She needed to know whether to chuckle or be offended.
Yes, my friends, for the entire evening, as guests filtered in and out of our bathroom, my husband’s briefs had been hanging on our guest towel bar like an overly personal hand towel. Mr. Wonderful could only say, later, “So I DID take a clean pair in there? I wondered where I’d set those down!” Martha Stewart eat your heart out.
Telling this story from time to time I am invariably met by the opinion, always of fellow women, that I have such a wonderful, healthy attitude about these challenges. So accepting, seeing the humor and all. Wrong. Please don’t give credit where credit is not due. I am not naturally sanguine on the subject. I have come by this acceptance through trial by fire.
Mr. Wonderful and I, normally disgustingly happy, spent the hours just prior to our firstborn’s first birthday party screaming bloody murder at each other. At one point I would have cheerfully killed him if I could have figured out how to hide his body and explain his absence during the party.
I also knew in some dim portion of my furious mind that he was likely to be the only one with the ability to assemble the baby’s little red wagon. That probably saved his life.
I can’t be certain but I think we were fighting about chairs. Folding chairs versus stacking chairs maybe? There may also have been an altercation over balloons.
That, then, is my memory of my son’s first birthday, me freaking out because I had a VISION and he wasn’t cooperating to bring it to fruition. I honestly don’t remember what we decided on the chairs OR the balloons, but I remember being frazzled and unhappy and wishing the whole thing would just be over.
Hardly the basis for warm, wonderful memories. Happy birthday baby.
Today I accept the reality that parties, like life, are rarely perfect. Embracing a happy family holiday means embracing the HAPPY FAMILY — not perfection: fishing tackle, sofa sprawl, crackers and all.
When it comes to fretting over perfection (and guest towels) you’re wise to keep both brief.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt has hand towels, she swears. She welcomes comments c/o LifeOutLoud@Comcast.net; P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460; or www.KymberlyFosterSeabolt.com.)