Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Christmas Memory: Day Fifteen - Parties







One of our holiday traditions, when Pat and I were a young couple, was to have these enormous and elaborate Christmas parties. I recall them all. Sometimes one at a time, sometimes all rolled up into one big Christmas Party ball. I think we threw these parties because I had seen the Christmas party scene in the movie STEEL MAGNOLIAS and believed that it should be that way every year. Some of the memories I have of these parties really stand out. For example:

--One year, in Texas, we had a party that featured a guest list of nearly 200 people - all of our friends from the theater scene. There was a present for each and every one of them under the tree. Many of them were photos I had shot of my friends in shows like HAIR, THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, ONDINE (and many others), that I had stayed up to the wee small hours of the morning, printing - and then mounting onto cardboard. We handed out gifts to everyone and said "on the count of three - one, two, three, RIP!" and they did. The oos and aahs were delicious. There are few things as satisfying as giving just the right present.

--One year, in New York, we crammed as many people as we could into our tiny little apartment and did a similar gift exchange but we made it a round robin thing where everyone went one after another and we all watched each other. What I remember most about that year is that our friends Chuck and Maryann came and they brought their small son, Paul; and I had the forsight to arrange a gift for him under the tree, too. Boy, was he surprised! Happiness is making a child happy.

--One year, in New York, we kept a huge pot of split pea soup on the stove and quiches baking in the over for an all day affair that included the likes of Austin Pendleton, Maureen Moore and Carole Shelley. Having lived in New York for a relatively small amount of time, having celebrities like this at our Christmas open house was a really nifty thing. I remember seeing Austin and Maureen gathered by the food at the stove, eating and talking intently and thinking "damn - can I cook or can I?"

--One year, in Texas, in a different apartment (one I loved, soooo much because it was perfect for parties) I was so excited because the house looked PERFECT and the food looked PERFECT and the guests were arriving and I had PERFECT gifts for everyone and the kitchen door opened (I love an apartment that has two doors, don't you?) and I was bent over the stove, taking something out of the oven and my darling friend (my best friend at the time) Paul Etheredge-Ouzts walked in with a witty comment. I was especially happy to see him because I had gotten him a wonderful gift of some expensive cologne. Later that day, when we did the gift giving, he looked at me and confessed, sheepishly, that he didn't wear cologne. Gasp. I didn't even know that my best friend didn't like cologne. Shame on me. I was happy he told me. It's important that we let our friends know us. For Christmas that year, I learned a lesson about double checking before buying the gift!

--One year, in New York, we were smack dab in the middle of the party and some of us were outside smoking (a habit I have, since, broken) and walking down the street we see Annalisa and Matthew, who were scheduled to NOT be at this party because of travel plans! They had driven all night and were exhausted but wanted to come in for as long as it took to hug everyone. THAT was a great Christmas surprise!

The memories from these wonderful Christmas parties of the past keep me smiling throughout the year. We don't get to have that party every year anymore - in fact, for several years we stopped. It's exhausting. There is a week of cleaning beforehand and a week, after. There is all that cooking and (perhaps the most exhausting party of it) eating. It wears me out. So, now and then, I take a Christmas off.

Still. It sure is fun to do them - especially when they go off well!

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