I am very taken with the “after” part of a dinner party. Napkins are crumpled, wine glasses with a smudge of red left in the bottom, some candles still burning, others not…empty plates and bowls. I find this all very beautiful for some reason…..But before that part…comes this part……
My holiday table scape always lacks a certain bourgeoisie ode to finery. I do not plan ahead very much….I have no official holiday china, and lord knows what I do have does not match. I was pretty thrilled to find a box of matching wine glasses in one of my props closets to use for Christmas Eve dinner this year. I do, on the other hand, have a fondness for beauty and art and how it can be evident in the small things. Setting the table is the first part of my favorite parts of having a dinner party.
It’s not that I have anything against things that match and pay tribute to the seasons, but just that I am not interested in that sort of thing. To many matching things make me kind of nervous. I feel content and satisfied in a certain amount of controlled chaos when it comes to “things”. The silver might or might not match, the linens napkins were gifted to me, two tables are put together to make one for 8 people, chairs are gathered randomly, there were a few tiny holes in the tablecloth which were covered by a runner and so on.
On December 24th each year Wouter and I host our small family for drinks and dinner. We have a pretty zany-hilarious time without the pressure of gift-giving (we gave that up years ago). We do exchange small items such as homemade cookies or jams on occasion, a pot of Amaryllis or a bottle of wine….so we are not totally Scrooge!
First we have champagne.
I keep the food simple and pretty much make ahead. Italian of some sort…with a really good salad and baguettes all toasty hot and ready for a smearing of softened butter. Chianti & Rose’s during dinner. Jugs of lemon water to temper the alcohol on the table. After dinner coffees and Brandy if you like with holiday cookies and ice cream. This all goes on for a few hours.
We have done “Christmas Crackers”, the British sort with toys and fortunes inside, not the ones you eat, since the “children” were little. Paper crowns and mustaches seem to bring out the best in everyone!
We do not talk about politics or anything that can quickly make us all crazy. This is not a “rule”, but we all seem to leave that behind for the evening. The idea is just to have fun and we do. We are a bit loud with lots of laughing and silliness and music. This year I played part of David Sedaris reading his hilarious “6 to 8 Black Men”. It is especially funny as we have a Dutch-American family. If you haven’t heard this story of Christmas in Holland and Saint Nicholas, as well as lots of other things, then you must.
Anyhow….I started this post thinking it would be about one of my favorite parts of any dinner party table…the aftermath! The evidence! The mess! The most artful part of the evening in many ways. What is left behind after use. The imagery. Almost my favorite part!
Happy New Year Y’all.