Last night, we were invited to an adults-only dinner party at a local priest's rectory. The ordered priest is the spiritual father of a good friend of mine. Thus, we snagged the hottest ticket in town! As it was a Tuesday, we decided to throw caution to the wind, eat meat and enjoy ourselves mightily. I couldn't help myself....I felt a blog post coming on as I sat there and had a great time.
We started with a glass of champagne seated in the living room, a fire burning in the fireplace. No music, just the voices of those discussing whether Voyage of the Dawn Treader was worth the $10+ ticket price. I believe we decided that yes, it was.
The dinner party- three couples, Father Order and a postulant- proceeded to the beautiful table. We scan the place settings- multiple glasses and flatware. Prepare for a dinner cooked by a master... My friend (with six kids) and I (four kids) were a little giddy at being served dinner instead of serving and participating in adult conversation instead of wrangling children at the table. We started with a delicious shrimp cocktail paired with white wine and went on from there- eight courses. The dinner was about three hours of amazing food and wonderful, adult discussion- the conversation of people on the same page, comfortable to talk about religion and politics with minor variations of opinion but agreeing on basic principles.
Father Order had lived and studied in Rome for seven years and it showed with his hospitality and offering of such a generous meal. We spoke about the new Mass translation for the U.S. that will be coming up in a year. I confessed that my least favorite Christmas carol is "O Christmas tree." My husband and I told some silly jokes. We talked about the husbands' jobs- there was a scientist, a college administrator and a hospital chaplain at the table. We talked and joked about the postulant's year of discernment (we know him from his volunteering at the hospital); it is very heartening to see a man finding his way in his vocation. It was a peaceful, blessed evening.
But my blog post title is "A Study in Contrasts"- so let's compare and contrast, shall we?
Father Order's rectory- immaculately clean and organized
Father Dad's townhouse- not too bad, but why are there Playmobil figures on the icon table and does the shoe pile really need to be that big at the front door? How many people live here anyway? Is that a chocolate smudge on the wall? Why is that cat crying outside- I hope you fed him today, Girl #2!
Father O's before dinner ritual- champagne in front of the fire
Father D's before dinner ritual- getting home right at 6, rushing to the front door, talking on the cell phone to parishioner or hospital while wife is finishing up dinner a bit frazzled because the guests came right on time and the two littles refused to take a nap so at the moment they are grumpy. Then Father D offers drinks to guests; we drink in the living room. I rush to the CD player to turn off Wee Sing Christmas and turn on something a little more classy.
Father O's starter courses- shrimp cocktail, then sauteed mushrooms- each with a paired wine
Father D's starter- depends on what his wife felt like making- sometimes deviled eggs, sometimes an antipasto tray, sometimes cheese and crackers set out by the big girls (did you wash your hands, girls?).
Father O's main course- duck breast with champagne gravy, garlic mashed potatoes and peas (um...yum- I must confess- this was my first time eating duck) and peace
Father D's main course- again, it depends- maybe something grilled, maybe a casserole, maybe a delivery pizza, maybe something 'gourmet,' depending on the guests...take the big girls aside and ask them to stop monopolizing the conversation, take the boy aside and tell him, yes, he must eat some of the weird dinner, take the baby aside to change her diaper...tell all the kids including the guest-kids that they can play upstairs until dessert...then, a little peace
Father O's after main course courses- a salad course and a cheese course and more conversation
Father D's after main course- well...um...we re-fill the glasses. Father D gets a call from the hospital- fortunately, he is on the phone for less than five minutes. I still shoot daggers at him with my eyes. He is the sanguine one; I don't like having the main hosting job.
Father O's dessert course- a choice of two yummy desserts, liqueur and coffee or espresso and more conversation
Father D and dessert- call the kids back for dessert; coffee is ready- boy spills his chocolate and cries- kids ask- isn't there more whipped cream? We might put in a video and let the kids eat their desserts picnic-style; our table only seats six, so it is always a tight squeeze. At this point, I might put the baby to sleep. We sometimes wind down the evening with a board game.
I know Father O doesn't have these mega-dinners all the time, but it was so much fun and an amazing invitation- thanks to my friend for setting it up. I love my kids, but sometimes it is a nice break to have a dinner with only adults. We have a babysitter so rarely (like go-to-a-Lord-of-the-Rings-movie-rarely). The contrasting dinner isn't really a fair comparison because my husband will go to a parishioner's home alone or to a restaurant when he needs to be sans famille. But when we are together, it gets chaotic!