It's a funny little thing how all our threads of our life gets so woven into others. You mix and mingle, meet people, create in-laws and outlaws, have cousins once removed or half-siblings and such. You never really think too much about it until Wham! — and holiday season is upon you and the co-ordinating begins.
I had a relatively simple holiday weekend just now. We hosted two dinners (one potluck) and attended a third. Not so bad, and one full day off in the middle to get a second wind going, but seeing as how I am a daughter of parents who've divorced and have new families along with my partner and his siblings and parents ... It was pretty smooth going.
There are so many families like this now, as the taboo of divorce slowly disappears. Maybe it's the decline of religious beliefs in new families or maybe the prevalence of the "I can do better" attitude but either way this causes some interesting family situations as children, siblings, in-laws and cousins become more complex.
I enjoy hosting dinners ... mostly for selfish reasons to be honest. I like the excuse to clean every nook and cranny, I like the fact that I will have leftovers for a few days, I like that I can put my children to bed at a reasonable hour and that (usually) all the dishes are done for me after we eat.
But more important is the Gathering — the collection of people that make up all my little threads. I love to see them all together and in one room — it makes me feel like a whole and complete person. These threads of people are my past and parentage, my present family and my future possibilities. I go a little camera crazy on these occasions, just because these are the happy gatherings, and I know full well there will be future gatherings that will not nearly be so happy.
I enjoy the co-ordination for these gatherings. The hustle before while inviting people, planning times, creating grocery lists, ensuring there are enough seats (or a kiddies table). The clothes for the kids — matching socks (if they haven't all run away) and tiny little braids, dresses and delicate earrings. The last minute panic "Do we have extra rolls of TP?!" or maybe that's just my house ...
And then the miracle of all the hot dishes finishing at the same time (or close enough) so that everything is quickly put in serving dishes and whisked away to the table to be passed around and quickly devoured.
It's a strange kind of adrenalin that charges through me, maybe just a "mom" thing, but holiday season had snuck up on us, and the Gatherings will continue so I will get a few more chances to challenge myself with new dishes and desserts. After all, if they're all family — they can't complain if it turns out weird, right?