Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Lessons from Friendsgiving 2.0

What a damn awesome night!

Entertaining gives me the greatest high. I love hockey, I love meeting a tight deadline, I love sexing up my wife, I love cleaning the gutters and mowing the lawn, and I love frying up a good omelette, but nothing, nothing, nothing on Earth makes me happier than breaking bread with good friends and family around a table.

Mrs. Beta roasted a solid 24 pound butterball turkey for a dozen people. We did not brine the bird, but let me assure you that the every morsel I tasted melted away on my tongue with the utmost ease, well drowned in cups full of home-made gravy, adorned with home-made stuffiing out of the dried out bread crumbs sitting on our island the past week.

We asked everyone else to bring a dish as well. Some were a little far out there (lasagna?!) and some set off the fire alarm (Ratatouille at 425 spews a lot of smoke from my crappy oven).

But we had a dozen happy faces, some a little less sober than others.

Obviously, this is what life is about, and this is why I kept my parents old dining room table, along with the 10-seater we purchased from Ethan Allen: we had plenty of seating for our large group of friends (and half the people we wanted to invite declined!)

Still, not everything went swimmingly. A few lessons stood out:

1. Know your portion sizes. At my Father's house, anything less than 3 servings is an insult. These hummingbirds barely packed away half a plate.

2. Keep the booze selection small. I am something of a drinker myself, so I put out several kinds of rum, mixers, whiskey, gin, vodka, and GOK what else. Almost no one had any.

3. Coffee is a bigger hit than I imagined. The crowd drained the pot I made in less than 20 minutes. I am glad I bought extra Bailey's mudslide creamer for everyone.

4. Empty your recycling bin BEFORE the damn party. Oversight on my part, and not to be repeated, I assure you.

5. Tupperware containers need cleaned and positioned before the end of the meal.

6. Not everyone wants to listen to an hour of Frank Sinatra.

7. A 24-pound bird needs multiple serving platters.

8. Where the hell is my goddam gravy boat?!

Likely, more lessons will come in the future.

I rather enjoyed having friends over. I see a great amount of drudgery in people's daily lives and a great deal of resignation to a gray, cold world. Certainly, when I grew up, my parents seemed to never invite any friends over, and rarely saw family.

I see this in my Sister and her Husband as well.

The foundation of my life is my mission, but the cornerstones are my Wife, my friends, and my family. I prefer to see friends and family at least on a weekly basis: I try to see my nieces and nephews more than that, but they are so often sick and so often traveling that even once a week is a feat!

The real danger rises when the Beta household has children of its own, which will dramatically complicate the logistics of any such venture. I sincerely hope, though, to make a greater effort to see family than my own family currently makes. It is, in fact, the whole reason I remain in the Chicago area: the vast majority of my immediate relations are in a 40 minute drive, and only one farther than a hour and a half commute.

It is with that I fashion the mortar that will become my life.

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