Monday, December 28, 2009

Hosting - for a week straight

I have never understood why New Years happens a week and a half after the winter solstice. Thanks to Wikipedia my thoughts on the complete arbitrariness of the new year falling in January have been confirmed. January was when the consuls of ancient Rome assumed the government. Traditionally, the Roman calendar started in March, which makes much more sense. The Jewish calendar renews during the harvest season, which also makes sense. Perhaps the only thing a January new year has going for it is that winter is a time of introspection and a time when we spend far too much time trapped indoors and are in need of something to make us feel less caged. Winter could benefit from a party and a nudge in the direction of thinking over the past year, though not, in my over-extended hostess's opinion, a week following Christmas.

I am not prone to thinking over the year at this point in December. While I was a student, the much more obvious time for the was always at the end of the school year in May or June. To me the year always feels as if it is renewing when I pull out the seed catalogues in mid January and start planning the new garden (this year, again, for the third time in four years, I will be digging a new garden). The renewal of our calendar is an imposition on my otherwise fluid experience of the cyclical nature of seasons. It feels rushed, stuck in and overshadowed as it is after the month-long glut of Christmas specials, carols, and advertising.

Since Wednesday evening I have had no time for anything besides driving, catching up with friends, cooking, washing dishes, and cleaning - definitely no time for top-ten lists and memoirs of my 2009 AD/CE experiences. It is a relief to be at work, where I am left relatively alone and no longer frenzied to the point where my body insists on hurting itself through sheer stupidity because otherwise I do not hearing it yelling "slow down and take a break, you maniac!" (I slammed my fingers in the front door right before sitting down to Sunday brunch, a completely idiotic move I haven't successfully pulled off for the better part of a decade)

I take pride in my hosting not because I am a deeply social person who loves having people over. Quite to the contrary. I make hosting a fastidious habit because that is the only way that the whole experience becomes easy and low-stress. Because every step is a habit, drilled into me by endless practice runs since I was old enough to pour tea, I no longer have to think about it. I spend half of my time with my guests going through motions so habitual I could do them with an axe murderer. "Tea or coffee?" "Let's move to the living room, where it's more comfortable." "Candy?" "Of course I don't mind if you take all the books off the shelf. It's about time I reorganize, anyway!" This perfected routine turns 4 hours of hosting into 2 hours of robotic ease and 2 hours of actual interaction, which, I assure you, I cherish.

Seeing as I am actually an antisocial person who likes more than anything to take a foot bath alone except for the company of my cat and Ira Glass, I hope you will excuse my coping mechanisms. I assure you that they are for our mutual benefit - you get tea and slippers as soon as you walk through the door, a set table, and other conveniences most people can't look forward to expecting until their friends are in their 40's and have finally shaken off the oafish habits of college, and I get the security of auto-pilot.

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