Who is worn out? I am.
So I mentioned that I was a wee bit concerned about the party. I have never thrown a party like that before, complete with invitations and china and crystal candlesticks and borrowed tablecloths. Heck, my wedding reception wasn’t that fancy. So it was a bit nerve-racking beforehand, especially when a church meeting came up that a lot of our friends had to go to after we had already checked the date and sent out the invitations. At one point it seemed like we were down to two other couples, which was disappointing (but would have meant more turkey, I suppose).
For a lot of years now, I have struggled with feeling that I am not important to God. Last fall I was pretty depressed, and one of the big reasons was my job search and how badly it was going. I got to the point where I quit praying about the job, because I figured God knew I needed one. I started praying that he would just send me some good news, some sign that he was still listening. It was very Rilla of Ingleside of me. “Please send better news tomorrow.” I never really felt like that happened, that he broke through in any encouraging way. And that was hard.
Add to that that I have struggled for a while with feeling valued by my friends. I mean, if God doesn’t value me, my friends certainly won’t. There are a whole lot of issues wrapped up in that, which I have mentioned here before many times. I think parties aren’t really a risk for most people, but they kind of are for me. But Mike really wanted to do this, so I told God that I’d take the risk (because I think he likes us to take risks) but that I would hold him personally responsible if the party was a flop. I bargained. I whined. I told him it wasn’t fair to ask me to take risks in my relationships if he wasn’t going to be there to catch me in some way. Basically, “Please let people come.”
Last week was kind of about all of this – party stress, feeling like God wanted me to take risks but was kind of leaving me hanging, and being worried about friendships. I cried. I stressed. I bought a turkey. We made stuffing using Mike’s childhood recipe. I baked some pies. We bought a can of cranberry sauce (ew).
I gave up on the stressing at some point, trying to just focus on enjoying whoever came. Kelly and Scott were staying with us, and that helped, both emotionally and with the preparations. We set up the tables and unpacked my mother’s Christmas china and Scott opened the wine (something Mike and I still fail to do successfully) and put the bread out to rise. We got dressed in cute brown clothes and kept checking the turkey. (The turkey, by the way, did not progress quite as quickly as we had hoped. Stupid turkey.)
And then, suddenly it was party time. And everyone came, and we drank wine and ate Kelly’s delicious spinach dip. And since the turkey serendipitously took longer than we expected, we could wait for everyone who had to go to that church meeting after all. And we had plenty of food and I loved the way the tables looked with the candles and the china and everything just seemed to go so well. I hope everyone had a good time, because we had a great time. Last night after everyone left and we swept up the last Cheerio, I said, “Were you worried about the carpet at all?” Our friends certainly had been, because they brought their kids and, as we are childless, they kept making sure stuff was okay with us. Mike said, “No, I didn’t really think about it.” “I didn’t either.” I like that about us.
After the last goodbye, I loaded up the china that could go in the dishwasher (some of mine, but even though my mom said hers could go, I was not going to be the one responsible for somehow ruining her china in my dishwasher) and started doing the dishes while Mike took down tables and started moving furniture back to its original places. Everyone offered to help before they left, but we refused. For one thing, we didn’t really have cooking stuff to clean up. And for another, I finally understood why my mother always eschewed help when she had people over. Sometimes it’s just easier to do it yourself. Besides, it’s not as if the dishes were unexpected. We were throwing a party.
After I finished the dishes, I stood there at the sink, admiring the clean china and sparkling crystal spread across the counter to my right, and I felt like it was a sign. Everyone knew it was important to me, and they worked it out so they could come. God had been listening after all. Not because people came – I’m self-centered, but not self-centered enough to feel that way. But because I wasn’t stressed at all on Sunday (except for a few minutes when I thought the turkey wasn’t going to be done until sometime in December) and because that means he had nudged me to the point where he had helped me separate my worth from the party. And because he knew I needed a little encouragement, he tossed in a great party on top of that. The whole point of the party, before I got caught up in whether people would come, was to celebrate the holiday with our friends, because we are so thankful for them. And, in the end, I feel like we got to do that. After I got out of the way and stopped worrying.
Everything we borrowed is in a huge pile by our door – two tables, ten chairs, two boxes of china, a box of wineglasses, a gravyboat, a coffeepot, assorted tablecloths, and probably some things I am forgetting. I put all our stuff away and made sure the kitchen was spotless before I went to bed last night. Before I turned off the light, I looked around one last time, making sure everything was in its place, feeling like the queen of my domain.
It was a good day.