“You’re SO much like your mother!” I know what you’re thinking. Ugh. Right?
Those six little words are rarely a compliment for 20-something women, or maybe any women, for that matter. But most of the time, being compared to my mom is a compliment of the highest order. Most of the time.
I’ve definitely inherited her generally laid-back, but feisty-as-necessary personality, and I got all her naughty sense of humor (Maggy’s such a prude). I split her love of food with my sister, but unfortunately, I lost the genetic battle for Mom’s go-get-‘em attitude. Maggy is an uber-doer, I’m more of an I’ll-get-‘em-eventually kind of girl.
Maggy and I also split the over-functioning party hostess gene, too. Mom’s been throwing massive dinner parties with frightening regularity for years—she basically catered Mags’ wedding for God’s sake, and looked devastatingly gorgeous doing it I might add.
I’ve watched her fry 40 pieces of chicken for one of my school events with (almost) no complaints—when I’d told her about it at approximately 8 o’clock the night before. She’s gotten up at 5 to make fresh scones for church parties, and baked dozens of gingerbread houses for charity. Mom’s been working to rein herself in recently, and trying to teach us to do the same. But old habits die hard, as they say.
So, when the question of my friend Erika’s bachelorette party came up, of course I said “Oh, let’s just have it at my place!” Well, the pre-party, at least. And, of course, I ended up feverishly cutting vegetables, making hors d’ oeuvres, mashing up guacamole, and putting out nibbles, ice, and drinks as people were arriving—no make-up on, hair in a messy ponytail, still clad in yoga pants and a wife beater. Nice, Sharon.
But, things went great. People mostly hung out around the kitchen island (I don’t even know why we have tables in our house, they mostly collect mail…and dust), and I ended up straightening my hair in the family room with a captive audience. Bottom line: everyone got fed and watered (so to speak) and it was a great time. Plus, let’s be serious, when people start ripping shots you can be sure they don’t give a crap about the crudités anymore.
Despite the fact that I know things will be ok, I have a hard time remembering that before a party. Whenever I am freaking out about preparing food for people, or freaking out while preparing food in front of people, I remind myself of one particular anecdote that reminds me to CHILL out—and I usually end up telling it to the people seated around the islands awaiting food.
One summer when we were kids—I was maybe 4 and Maggy was 6—Mom was getting ready for a dinner party. I’d be willing to bet that it was 90 degrees, 50% humidity, and we were tugging on her apron in our un-air-conditioned kitchen taking turns whining out something like: “Mooooooommmmm, can we help?!”
God bless her, she didn’t yell at us, or say no, or send us off to watch TV. She handed us a big bowl, a couple wooden spoons, and told us to grab ingredients out of the cupboard and go make something…elsewhere.
Bear-hugging all manner of jars and canisters, we toddled out to the driveway (seemed as good a place as any) to create. As far as my memory is concerned, those cookies only had two ingredients: shredded coconut and rainbow sprinkles. Surely we put something else in there, but I have no idea what it was. I don’t even remember if we baked them.
When with hyper-extended little arms we proudly presented Mom with our coconut sprinkle cookies—bits of grass, gravel, and rainbow-colored toppings be damned—she served them at her party. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that important, before or since.
They were a hit! No one seems to remember if they were accidentally delicious, decently edible, or ended up tucked in the bathroom trash can in cocktail napkins. But, everyone had a great time telling us that they were good and laying those “mmmmmm” noises on real thick.
Next time I throw a party, I’ll probably still be in my yoga pants when people arrive, but I’ll try not to worry about it. After all, who cares? Perhaps I can rustle up a recipe for coconut-sprinkle cookies, and call them psychedelic macaroons—my friends would probably love them. If not, I’ll just say a toddler made them.