I’ve been busy unpacking. I know, I know. I moved in June and I’m still unpacking. I’ve been walking the dog, feeding and bathing two kids, making school lunches, and tying shoes 15-37 times per day. That’s time consuming. Also, I’ve been procrastinating getting new license plates for the cars. Believe it or not, that’s even more of a time suck.
But I’m trying. My motto is one box a day. Today, I was an overachiever. I tackled two boxes labeled “dining room” and “entertainment.” These boxes haven’t been a high priority because (1) we don’t have any dining room furniture, and (2) I can’t remember the last time we entertained anyone except ourselves…with wine in acrylic cups, takeout Chinese food, and the DVR.
Looking through these boxes was like digging up a time capsule. There were wine glass charms, mini cheese markers, ceramic serving bowls, and funky drink coasters. It was like a party in a box!
Believe it or not, we used to entertain. There was, in fact, a period of time in our lives when we made homemade pasta and bread, when we let red wine breathe and grilled expensive steaks, when we decorated plates with purees and demi-glaces, and when we lovingly stirred risotto and slow-cooked chili.
Then we had kids.
We’ve been in our new house for five months and the thought of hosting a housewarming party hasn’t even crossed my mind. Sadly, the only thought I have when I look at all of these tools to entertain is: That’s a lot of work.
Isn’t that what all parents think? Isn’t that how we all get through each day? We put prepackaged apple slices and yogurt in squeezable tubes in our kids’ lunch boxes. We skip the second coat of paint. We buy pre-washed lettuce at the grocery store. We give our kids screens to occupy them when they’re bored. We do what’s easy. It’s not a bad thing. It’s just that the hard way is exhausting, and we’re already tired.
I remember hosting a party (pre-parenthood) in our quaint (tiny) apartment in Brooklyn. We schlepped a case of wine and as much beer six blocks from the liquor store. We spent all morning taste-testing olive mixes and stinky, artisanal cheeses at our favorite local gourmet shop and all afternoon whipping together flavorful dips and salsas. We arranged everything on various tables all around our charming (tiny) apartment. We lit candles and turned on music, and that evening our friends came from all over the five boroughs – even a few from Westchester, if I recall – into the heart of Brooklyn to spend an evening with us.
At the center of our spread were appetizer meatballs served in a chafing dish. A chafing dish, people! I don’t even think we had proper wine glasses (shocking, I know), but somehow we had a chafing dish to keep those meatballs warm, and there was a crowd around them all night long.
Planning and executing that party was a crap load of work, but I’ll never forget the friends who came, the fun we had, and the meatballs at the center of it all. Now, I’m staring at a ceramic olive boat, a sterling silver wine chiller, a set of marble cheese boards, and a lifetime supply of tealight candles like they’re relics, and the only logical place I can think to put them is in the basement on the shelf next to the abyss otherwise known as Lego City.
The funny thing about those meatballs is that even though they appeared elaborate and time-consuming, the recipe has just three ingredients: frozen meatballs, chili sauce, and grape jelly. That’s it. They’re as easy to prepare as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for my kids with no jelly, no crust, no “seeds” in the bread, no crumbs on the plate, on this plate not that plate, at this chair not that chair, and a side of “I need icy water so badly or I’ll die!” Actually, the meatballs are easier.
I think I’m going to leave the “entertaining” and “dining room” boxes upstairs for a little while longer. Maybe one of these days I’ll unpack that chafing dish and muster up the energy invite a few friends over for drinks and meatballs.