Managing Perspectations: a rational approach to holiday entertaining

Last Monday, my husband suggested that if I wasn’t in full-blown panic mode, I might not be paying adequate attention.  Ace (a pseudonym which predates Jessica Simpson’s spawn) is a hard-core Planner.  I am a planner turned (seat-of-my) pantser turner plantser.  We generally complement each other.  He is ready for any weather predicament, interpersonal possibility, or rabid beast.  I provide enough zaniness to spice things up.

Ace had valid reason for concern.  Tuesday = my community band concert; Wednesday = The Big E’s evening “Poetry Café”; Thursday = Winter Concert at school (where I fill the roles of costumer, accompanist, and volunteer coordinator); Friday = Costco run, last day of school, and The Big E’s banjo lesson; Saturday-Monday = beloved friends (a family of four) bunk with us; Tuesday = intimate party of 29 (!!!!!!!!) AT OUR HOUSE!!!!!!!!

Twenty-nine is a lovely number, really.  I lose track after a dozen – so an additional seventeen?  Sure!  In San Diego, 29 would be NO BIG DEAL, like, AT ALL.  We’d spill out into the 3×8 foot yard, snack on a profusion of plump heirloom tomatoes, and engage in festive lawn games.

In Minnesota, we’ll spill out onto the frigid tundra, snack on icicles and snowcones, and lob frozen bunny turds at each other.

Twenty-nine people will likely produce around 3.5 gallons of urine over the course of the evening after consuming 31 pounds of food.  Anticipated colonic evacuation, assuming around 1/3 of our guests heed the call to stool, could total upwards of ten pounds.

Reality began to set in and I realized full-blown panic might be an appropriate response.  I was setting to work on my ulcer when three things happened:

1)    Ace’s favorite aunt died

2)    Friends of ours lost their home, car, and health insurance

3)    A variety pack of mental health crises erupted amongst kith and kin

Thank you, Universe.  Point taken.  Can the pity polka and pack up the teeny tiny violin.

The perspective part of my perspectations realigned instantaneously, allowing me to focus on managing expectations.  The simple key to managing expectations is to lower one’s standards.

– If I don’t clean the toilets they will still be statistically cleaner than the sinks.

– If the Mount Vesuvius of unfolded laundry prevails on the guest room bed, I’ll devise comfy nests for our guests.

– If I forget to put out the recycle, we’ll construct pierced aluminum luminaria.  Party crafts!

– If my desk evades organizational attention, the piles of paper will work nicely for a spontaneous backyard bonfire.

– If all of our culinary plans implode, we can always order pizza.

Ultimately, none of it matters.  What matters is the thread of love – mother to son to friend to cousin to grandma to husband to neighbor – connecting us, holding us, weaving the tapestry of community.

Peace & Love,


Musical Moment

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2 Responses to Managing Perspectations: a rational approach to holiday entertaining

  1. Kathy says:

    First of all, my condolences to “Ace.” Second, our wedding – thoughtfully but not preciously planned – went south when my dad had a minor heart attack and was rushed to the ER that morning. We moved the wedding to the hospital – which greatly endeared my spouse to my “don’t let us trouble you, please proceed as planned” parents – our guests at the planned location got the party started, and we promptly shed every piece of the wedding plans that we’d been doing for someone else’s satisfaction. It was lovely (given, of course, that we knew my dad was going to be fine). It was also a great reminder that when those we love need a village, the village will and should turn up, and the fancy disco ball will not be missed. I hope it all went fine.

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