ragtags studio central: sarah's random this & that

random means "having no definite aim or purpose," (1655), taken from "at random" (1565), "at great speed" (thus, "carelessly, haphazardly"). In 1980s college student slang, it somehow, and sadly, acquired a distinct sense of "inferior, undesirable." (Online Etymology Dictionary, Douglas Harper) Well, okay, fine, Mr. Online Etymology Dictionary person, but THIS is the 21st Century. It's a whole new ball of wax.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

whenever two or more of you

Ours is a family which collects ideas to be implemented at numerous parties with a fervor equal to that of those who collect antique fishing equipment, vintage glass Christmas tree ornaments, or pristine copies of original Dave Brubeck recordings.

Various members of the Colorado Gerety tribe can frequently be found gathered together (“having a party”) discussing past, finalizing present, and planning future shenanigans (according to the Gerety family dictionary - currently unpublished - shenanigans are loosely defined as “Irish hullabaloos”) over cocktails (see footnote 1) and tasty snacks. Our party planning (and execution) runs the gamut, from a nearly yearly Midwinter Holidays soirée, (see footnote 2) to which all and sundry are invited, to our slightly more intimate weekly get-togethers, known as Tradition (see footnotes 3 & 4). (Colin argued, singularly and unsuccessfully, that “Tradition” needed to “stand the test of time”, somehow come to deserve the appellation. Several years down the line, he has conceded that, no misnomer, it does, and always did.) Our planning expertise has improved immeasurably since that fateful year when we made no plans at all, neglected the shopping and the empty state of kitchen cupboards and enjoyed a most hastily concocted Thanksgiving dinner created from a few odd items found at the only open convenience store in town and another year when, not having gone for a Christmas tree, we wrapped lights around Sierra-Marie.

Christmas Eve celebrations are lovely fun. Everyone's invited. We sled, or hike, or go to the movies. Home again, there’s a signature cocktail to try out. We have a dance party, get a fire roaring in the fireplace and write letters to Santa to end the day. Once everyone has finished writing, we toss the letters into the fire for quick delivery to the North Pole. On Christmas morning, everyone has stockings together in the biggest bed.

We have planned, hosted and/or personally reveled in several wedding bashes (which included either an auxiliary softball game or beach sing-a-long, fun “do”s on their own merit), innumerable birthday parties (kids are crazy about cooking parties where they make the cake) (see footnote 5), and of course, Thanksgivings. One recent Thanksgiving Weekend was typical. Originally designated as “guests” we, due to unforeseen circumstances, ended up co-hosting, cooking and decorating for nearly 30, after driving all night and two hours sleep. Thanksgiving Day ended with Colin and a small gang of our nieces, nephews and a grandson organizing The Perfect Crime. (Not surprisingly, certain actual crimes can make for excellent parties, too. We think.) Some parties end with an unexpected fillip. Our drive home that Sunday included a blizzard.

For pre-planned occasional fetes and galas large or small, invitations of varying types are extended. Artfully, or at least cleverly, designed invites are stamped, sealed and delivered via post, though last minute telephone and email invitations are considered valid. By contrast, both impromptu and regularly scheduled festivities are usually merely mentioned, and in person, ie. “Tradition is Saturday night this week,” or “Come to our house for a picnic before the fireworks.” Tea simply appears. If you're here, you partake.

Lest you get the wrong impression, I must tell you we are, to a person, more than merely planners, hosts and hostesses. We are avid attenders. From the memorable “costume” party where our family were absolutely the only guests to have been informed it was, in fact, a costume party (yes, well, the joke’s on the Gerety’s, but we all know who laughs best - the ones in the costumes, of course!), to a sauna inauguration, to an elegant, multi-course thank you dinner, we have been most grateful, and we hope, gracious, guests. One late spring evening long ago was spent in good company in a New Mexican hot spring in the Jemez Mountains. A light snow fell all around us, and a million stars twinkled through scattered clouds. The memory of that among other perfect occasions - a recent beach barbecue and bonfire in southern California - late nights that became dawn as we talked and laughed and listened to music, all become essential elements in the mystery of what makes us who we are.

A party can be any size and happen any place. We have walked a few blocks every Sunday for months running to share morning waffles, wine and bridge in the company of dear friends, attended such diverse celebrations as the Dulcimer Debutante Ball and a wedding with two beautiful brides. We (family, extended family and friends) celebrated the home birth of Sebastian by immediately baking him a chocolate cake, with a powdered sugar Batman symbol for decor, and we toasted many toasts with Mike’s Hard Lemonade. We've eaten delicious takeout breakfasts and had an impromptu beading party with friends and family in San Antonio. Most of us included the words “slumber party” in the first sentence we ever spoke. We will always appreciate our fortune in being able to relish a pastiche of parties and melange of meals enjoyed in good company. From catching a flight to NYC for a huge New Year’s celebration, to partying in New Orleans for no special reason at all, we have (collectively, separately and together) attended parties from one coast of North America to the other and (some of us) have partied in Africa and Europe, too.

Parties punctuate the seasons and celebrate the passage of time. A good party jazzes up an ordinary day (see footnote 6) and gives us a reason to grin.

footnote 1: Recipe for a perfect Swamp Rocket:
To a large mug or tumbler of freshly heated water, add two heaping teaspoons of Tang, The Drink of the Astronauts. Pour Midori into the Tang until it turns the color of split pea soup. This drink is guaranteed to warm you up nicely on a cold Colorado day. It's perfect for drinking while hanging out in front of a cozy fire, inside or out but tastes equally delish when enjoyed while sitting on your porch listening to early morning birdsong.

footnote 2: In your bathtub, place a nice thick layer of unbleached quilter’s cotton batting. Sprinkle vintage silver german glass glitter and confetti stars generously over the cotton. Fill to the top with white twinkle lights and you
will have some swell, facsimile snow lighting.

footnote 3: Sunday morning waffles, wine and bridge, aka The Church of the Sunday Social, were an early version of Tradition.

footnote 4: Instincts fostered by Tradition begin at an early age. Soon after we first began celebrating Tradition, Dante realized how much he loved it and lobbied for similar fare at every meal because it was “just like a feast!”

footnote 5: Vintage aprons and new wooden spoons make cool party favors.

footnote 6: A disco ball hanging in any room of one’s house, or in an office or studio space serves equally as an excellent party accessory or daily decor.

For whenever two or more of you are gathered in His name,
There is Love, there is Love. Paul Stookey 1971