Just Do It

Not like I need any reminders of why I love summer.  But this was a perfect summer evening, and we were gathered at a friend’s house to celebrate the birthdays of 4 of our fellow neighbors.  This is a fun, lively and well-acquainted crowd, and an evening spent with them is always a good time.

After a leisurely cocktail hour, we sat down for dinner.  I had been immersed in the kind of conversation that you have when you’re at a large dinner party.  Chatting equally with the people on either side of you and also the person across from the guy next to you until someone at the other end of the table says something that brings you into that conversation.  Then I found myself sitting back, letting go of the conversation, just looking around and taking it all in.  And that’s when I had this wonderful realization.  With 20 of us crowded around 2 tables, laughing, talking and just being together, I realized that this is what it’s all about.  This is why we started Entertaining Couple and why we keep it going.  Here we all were, neighbors who all live in the same neighborhood.  We wave at each other as we pass.  We stop on our walks and chat.  But it takes a dinner party for us to really sit and talk.  To build the relationships that make me feel connected to something.

Patio Dinner Party

Thanks to the wonderful, and wonderfully talented, Tia Gavin for taking this photo.

My purpose, passion and mission became even clearer at that moment.  On the one hand, our blog can seem like just an assortment of cocktail and dessert recipes.  But, for us, it’s so much more than that.  The recipes and ideas are simply a means to an end, which is to have people gather around a table and connect with each other.  To salvage a sense of friendship, kinship and belonging that gets lost in this virtual world of ours.  I long for that sense of community and connection.  I don’t entertain to impress people.  What I value is the opportunity for people to gather. Through our blog, we hope to inspire others who share that desire.

The house where we gathered that night has seen its share of parties.  The host and hostess open up their home often.  She is one of the most gracious and generous hostesses you could ever have the privilege of knowing.  One of the things that makes her this way is her willingness to let others share in the preparation of the meal — which is a challenge for me.  Not sure why I feel the need to control it all.  Maybe it’s that I can’t quite let go of the concept of a potluck where that nasty green Jell-o salad with white lumps inevitably makes an appearance.  Or, that I really do enjoy the preparation of it all.  And then there’s the issue where part of me just has a hard time accepting help from others.  So, I tend to do everything myself.  But these friends have inspired me to look differently at the role of hostess.  I now realize that a gathering where people bring a dish to share is a very different experience.  The hosts provided the main course and an appetizer.  Guests brought appetizers and side dishes and dessert (that was my contribution).  The food was all excellent and the concept of community was carried out as everyone shared their food.  The point is, if you are hesitant to invite people to your table because the thought of entertaining is simply overwhelming , or it’s too much work, or is too much of a budget-breaker, go ahead and extend the invitations and simply ask everyone to bring something to contribute to the meal.

I recently got connected with the talented woman behind The Yellow Table blog and cookbook project.  In order to raise money for her self-published cookbook, she took off across America, holding dinner parties in 7 different cities.  The project is inspiring, but so is her mission.  I love her message of “Life around a table is life at its best.”  For me, I love the possibilities of what can happen around a dinner table.

I understand that not everyone has a desire to sit and share a meal with friends or neighbors or acquaintances or strangers.  But, if you do, may I offer up the following challenge?  Just do it.  Prepare a meal.  Or, order pizza and serve it up.  Or, throw a potluck and let everyone bring something.  Forget about the perfection that the world of Pinterest and blogs drop at our feet on a daily basis.  Let the pictures and words inspire, not intimidate.  Friendships and connections don’t require perfection.  They simply require a space to gather and share.  Invite someone to join you at your table.  And let the possibilities unfold.

Happy Entertaining!

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