Entertaining Memories

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From casual BBQs to formal Oscar viewings, from birthday surprises to annual holiday celebrations, there's nothing like a great party to create a lasting memory. Whether you remember the food, the fun or the occasional foible, looking back on entertaining moments, snapshots of friends and family enjoying a chance to gather together, is sure to bring a smile to your face.

When I look back over a lifetime of entertaining moments, there are some surprising standouts. I remember my 5th birthday party, my first that included friends as well as family. I had a fabulous dress (green gingham, short puffed sleeves, and a floor-length skirt that ended in a ruffle) and acquired my second piece of furniture (a toy box/bench my Mom bought unfinished and stained herself in our small apartment). Though the dress is sadly long gone, that toy box still lives in my Mom's apartment providing a seat and some much needed storage in the entryway.

The next big party I that stands out in my mind was Thanksgiving 1994. I was spending my junior year abroad, sharing an apartment with three other girls, and we decided to host a real American holiday potluck for all our friends despite our limited kitchen space and complete lack of experience. It was bad enough when the girl who was supposed to cook the turkey showed up at 10am with a thawed bird rather than 4pm with a cooked one; when we discovered the turkey wouldn't fit into our tiny oven and had to saw it in half with a bread knife so we could share the cooking with our downstairs neighbors, I began to fear we might not survive. I look back now and smile at the memories of that dinner, though I promise we were less sanguine on the day itself!

Probably my favorite entertaining memory is of the first real party I threw all by myself- Christmas 2001. I drove myself crazy planning and cleaning and cooking for a week before the event. As the start time drew near, I had a small meltdown about the texture of my homemade eggnog (!) and seriously thought of canceling before embarrassing myself in front of all of my friends. I pulled myself together to welcome my first guests, then spent at least the first hour waiting for the party to become an abject failure. My first real smile of the night came when I found my friend John trying to sneak into kitchen, hiding a bag behind him. When I asked what was going on, he sheepishly handed me the bag and said. "I brought snacks, but now I realize this isn't a chips and salsa kind of party." That one line, delivered at the first party I ever threw all by myself with food I cooked all by myself, made my whole night. Heck, I'm smiling now just thinking about it!

Do you have a favorite entertaining memory? If so, is it a good one like my dress and toy box? Or one like that poor sad turkey, thoughts of which can still bring a tear to my eye? (Though truthfully now the tears come from laughter when I remember the absurdity of that day!) Best of all, is it one like my memory of John, who said exactly the right thing at exactly the right time to create a lasting warmth that I still feel today?

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