Friday, December 10, 2010

Put On Your (Pity) Party Pants (I promise, I did write this yesterday)

Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

Ok, so I've read some of the Reverb10 posts and realize I am supposed to BREAK THE RULES with these questions, and not write them uncomfortably straight, like yesterday's post. But uncomfortably truthful.
I would be a little late on the uptake. Like I am with just about everything this year, especially Christmas. No tree, no decorations, hardly any gifts. (Who has time with all this writing I'm doing? I just can't multitask like I could in my 30s and 40s, I'm just saying.)

Though the weddings I attended were FAB, Anna and Ardeth, that's not what I will remember here.

It happened just last night. It was lovely. I went to my first ever book club meeting at a friend’s house. As I write these words, I think how can it be that I have, at 53, been invited to join my first book club? All my friends are in book clubs, some of them in more than one. I've been invited to read at book clubs, but never to join. (Ok, might this be pity party # 2?)  A wise friend told me recently that I might intimidate people because I'm a "writer," well, do they know that this writer reads her fair share of trash, has actually bought a copy of the National Inquirer (once), that the high brow books I read I often don't understand? Not to mention that it is embarrassing the number of books I haven't read on that list of BBC books that most people have only read six of floating around on FB. (For the record, I have read WAY more than six. But Madame Bovary? My mother would never have allowed me to read that. I had to get special permission to see Romeo and Juliet at the Dixie Theatre because Leonard Whiting was bare bottomed. Not to mention Olivia Hussey's bosom, but I had seen at least two of those by then.)

Anyway, back to the Party. I love my friend. We've been friends for 20 years, and I have admired her all those years. She's a great mother. She is intentional in her actions. 

She is beautiful, has a beautiful house and everything looks like pottery barn and her husband is a cabinet maker (as a hobby), he built some of the cabinets in their living room. He is also a husband who can fix anything at all, and one thing he fixed (that I covet) are these beautiful cabinets over her kitchen computer station that are back light (not with florescent lights, mind you) but soft lights that reflect on the artisan pitchers and plates she has on display. They have a mountain house (that I have been invited to twice) and they cut their Christmas tree down from the mountains and it is 10 feet tall), and she made us Christmas cookies and everything was CLEAN, even with a dog in the house and the lights are all perfectly low and the children's Christmas handprint wreath pictures are all framed and over the fireplace, (somewhere in my boxes yet to unpack, my children's handprint wreaths are curled on dowels.) And she had carefully preserved other special Christmas artwork — the adorable burlap pillow cross-stitched with a Christmas tree comes to mind —I have the same one somewhere, if the dog didn't chew it up a couple of Christmases ago. And she had ordered special huggers for our wine glasses with the name of the book club on them, and there were lights everywhere and she has stenciled the wall with a special Christmas saying about singing loudly that she created, that apparently just scrapes off without leaving a scar on the wall when Christmas is over, (if I did it, it would indeed scar), and, well, can you tell that when I die I want to come back as her? 

As I moved around her house, admiring every corner of it, I couldn't help but wonder, what do I have to offer my friends, really? 

I came home to kitchen counters filled with lists and bills and nary a twinkling light glowing, save my husband's computer screen, and the florescent one over the kitchen sink, and I guess if I tried real hard I could imagine its light emanating from the Star of Wonder all those years ago in Bethlehem. And I had two missed messages from my husband saying he couldn't, then could, figure out the DVR so I wouldn't miss Sing-off while I was gone. And I just looked around at all the dust and scratched up floors where the dog has played catch me if you can and I had myself a good ol' fashioned pity party, with nobody but myself in attendance, remembering a time when you could practically eat off my floors my house was that clean. What happened to that girl?

And while I pitied, I watched Sing-off (aren't those guys from Committed amazing?) marveling in fact God gives some people the ability to sing better than a bird, and though I have always wanted to, He didn't give that to me, and in the midst of the pity, I realized what I did get, right in front of my eyes in this beautiful home but I had failed to see. 

My friend Pam. I have known her, too, for 20 years, and being a Yank, she is a stitch. She has made me laugh ever since we coached our daughters' OM team together, way back when they were in fifth grade. And she told me how she went to the airport to greet the WWII veterans who took the Flight of Honor a couple of weeks ago. Her father, a WWII vet is no longer around to take that flight. One of the giants in my church did though.

And Martha was there. I have known her since Miss Lottie Smith Welch's kindergarten. I have been waiting to see her for a couple of weeks, to talk about her son Ryan, in Afghanistan, and to share news that I have connected with one of our long-lost classmates, whom she will want to see. We hugged, (twice) knowing there is no friend like the ones who have known you when you were just you, and have loved you anyway.

And Grace was there. We walk our dogs every day at 6:30, a.m., have for I don't know how many years. Two dogs ago for me I think. It's been so cold this week we have stayed snuggled under the covers instead, and I have missed her company. When we went around the room to share our favorite Christmas traditions, she said church on Christmas Eve. It's the same for me. We have the same dishes, the same colors in our houses.We joke sometimes that when we get old, we'll move around the corner to the retirement home and combine our things. They would easily coordinate.  We were suite-mates in college. I have known her that long.

Two of my neighbors who have children getting married next year were there. I don't see them often at all, even though they live just through the trees. Both are funny, characters in their own right, and I love seeing them, listening to Karen talk about her favorite residents in the retirement home she runs, and Margaret about her extended family, all of whom live in the neighborhood, or nearby.

And there were a couple of women I don't know well, but whom I know will, over discussions about books, will give me great food for thought.

Why do I do this to myself, needle until I find the ways I fall short, instead of celebrating the fact that my friend opened her home and invited me in? That she drew together a group of women who are important to me, and gave me the chance to reconnect?

And so, just a bit ago, I pulled out the candles to put in the windows, and since it is me, a few of the bulbs were burned out, and when I went to the store to get them, I forgot to get them. So there you go. But when I drove back in the driveway, the candles lit the windows like stars. 

Christmas is coming. And even if I can't get the scratches off my floor, the presents bought, the greenery hung by the time it arrives, there will be much to celebrate.