It is a sad reality that it takes anticipatory shame, the likes of which only a houseful of guests can elicit, to motivate me to really clean my abode. Of course I pick up every day, ok, most days, but on my knees scrubbing goodness knows what off the front of the oven door isn't happening unless a group of fresh somebodies is going to bear witness to how uncrusty my kitchen becomes with a little bit of attention and Clorox.
Ironically, the somebodies that make their way to my house tend to be the kind who love me, crust and all, but all the more reason they are worth the effort. It is unfortunate that part of the buildup for a day of entertaining is tainted with the sometimes overwhelming task of getting a home 'show ready' but it is also kind of a bonus. Sure there are now a few odds and ends that got ruffled in the day's well mannered frivolities but at the core, my house is still kind of sparkly. Not the OCD sparkly other people spend their regular old lives in, but comparative sparkly, as in "Look, I can see the dining room floor now."
Surely even this fantastic gift of deep clean is shadowed by the real pleasure of the day, however. To soak in time with old friends, continue story lines that are years old, find yourself flitting around topics as serious as fund raising, as hot as volcanoes and as sweet as caramel, is such a satisfying endeavor for us social animals. Gatherings of this nature envelop me like a warm blanket with a sense of cozy contentedness about my little nook in the world.
My children also feel the magic. These women, who have been around well before my children were born, are part of the scenery of their lives as surely as extended family members and special meals. Once the business of visiting is in full swing the kids get a little friskier, they aren't watched as closely (which is probably why I just found a sippy cup in the silverware drawer) and bedtime gets pushed back. They don't want to miss anything either. When a grown-up is willing to sit on the floor and play trains, who could possibly consider sleep? (Bless you, Vivel)
As I finally tucked my elder boy in tonight, his head resting on his train printed pillowcase, he confided he had a really great time today. Me too, son. My daughter was more pragmatic in her good night conversation. She wanted to make sure the homemade hot fudge was left behind. We all have our priorities.
I like to throw things.