My First Ham
I’ve never hosted a real dinner party, or a real anything, honestly. I love the idea of hosting, though. I love having the planning, the organizing, and then actually having people over. One of my favorite things in the entire world is sitting around a good meal, or good wine, and just laughing and talking. I’ve found that no matter who I’m with, whether it be foreign strangers in Africa, my 50-something coworkers, or my best friends, it’s still my favorite thing. Bonding over a meal or drinks is one of my absolute favorite things. Needless to say, I was pumped about friendsgiving. I cried three times the week leading up to it, just from thinking about how great it would be.
I spent an embarrassing amount of time on Pinterest finding ideas for the tablescape. Doesn’t that sound grown up? Tablescape? Now that i’m typing that, I’m not even sure if it’s a real word, but whatever. My roommate and I spent quite a while picking the perfect (and cheapest) options for it. $2 brown paper from Michaels, pumpkins that had been on our table for a month (we spray painted them gold), a $6 bouquet of eucalyptus (I’ve since learned that it’s cheaper at Trader Joe’s), some candles from the dollar store, and some twigs I cut off the bushes outside our house. On the day of, we were so excited that we set it hours early. It really turned out beautifully, and fit the vibe I wanted to a tee.
A few of us had been at the house watching/ignoring football all day, so we were totally relaxed and pumped for the evening. I stressed out in the morning googling how to make a ham. I called both my parents in super saver seeking help on which ham to buy. I read countless recipes and couldn’t figure out why they all said “pre-cooked ham” as an ingredient. How do I get it to be “pre-cooked”?!?!? Then I realized mine was precooked. I squished it into our crockpot, threw on some brown sugar and some crushed pineapple- then put it in the hands of God and forgot about it until after noon. When everyone started showing up, we put out the cheese plate, and cracked open the wine. One of our friends was assigned cocktails as his contribution, so he played bartender. He spent awhile perfected his whiskey sour, and it was awesome. We bumped into each other trying to cook, and music filled the house.
Well, the dinner didn’t go quite as planned. We all plated up, and sat around the table, drinks full. One of my roommates asked that we go in a circle and say what we were thankful for. The first guy to go made a very eloquent thankful speech, which really changed the game. It was no longer “I’m thankful for family, football, and friends,” but instead, “I’m thankful for *insert a lot of sappy, sweet things.*” We slowly made our way around the table, and I could feel my anxiety rising. Granted, I was very anxious all day- but this was really making it worse. What was I going to say? How was I going to say it? Suddenly, all of my thoughts sounded juvenile. I felt like I was going to throw up. When it got to be my turn, I tried to say a few jokes to lighten the mood. Everyone would talk a little, and it kept coming back to me to say more. I couldn’t seem to get anything out other than nervous laughter and “I’m thankful for everything.” They kept asking me to actually try, and for some god-forsaken reason, I burst into tears and a full-blown anxiety attack. I had to leave the table to go downstairs. Sam followed, and my roommates a few minutes later. After 5 or so minutes, they had helped me settle my breathing, and I finally stopped crying. I reapplied my mascara, and went back to finish my now-cold food. This wasn’t how my friendsgiving was supposed to go- it was supposed to be perfect.
After dinner, we started playing games, and turned the music up. We drank, we laughed, and we made quite a mess. A couple hours later, one of the guys asked, “Anyone down for a second friendsgiving?” With this, we all got second helpings of food, re-lit the candles, and sat back in our seats. This dinner was much less anxiety-filled for me. After that, we ended the night with a couple hours of music around the table. We took turns picking out old songs, and sang until our lungs gave out. We burned eucalyptus leaves in the candles, and watched the candles burn flat out onto the table.
I’d like to note that I was not the only one who cried on Friendsgiving. Two other girls did, too. Also, one person got too drunk, and one person fell asleep on the couch far before the rest of us. The house got trashed, an entire handle of Jim Beam was drank (and a few bottles of wine,) and there were little arguments here and there. It was by no means a perfect evening. But at the very end of the night, gathered around the candlewax covered table, singing to Elton John in our dimly lit dining room, my heart was soaring. So that, is what friendsgiving helped me realize I am thankful for. I am thankful for: having friends who will leave dinner to coach me through an anxiety attack, Rocket Man by Elton John, our cozy home, red wine, photos, being privileged enough to have the resources and time to write all this out, all the people who have touched my heart, and of course- my first ham turning out great.
Life is not perfect- life is life.