Q&A: Entertaining.

Today's Q&A comes from my high school pal, Lindsay, who watches a lot of HGTV and had this House Hunters/Tiny House Hunters inspired question:

"One thing I notice they ALWAYS want is the space to entertain. I'm always shocked as they are often sacrificing so much to fit an entire family into their new space. Often sacrificing full size refrigerators and having no oven at all. Yet, they NEED this space to have friends over. And I think, really? So I ask you...is space to entertain guests something you're considering for the bus? Or is it hard enough to fit 6 people and their necessities into a space without considering guests?"

We don't like people.

Next question?


Ok, ok. While it's true that we are a family of mostly socially inept introverts who break out in hives at even the thought of having to "entertain", we (confusingly, incomprehensibly) actually do entertain in our current house.

Yes, there is generally a sweaty, anxiety-related rash and some hyperventilating into a paper bag and moonshine shots 10 minutes before the first guest is due to arrive, but we manage to do fairly ok at acting like we know what we're doing. At least I assume we do, because people keep coming back to these things. (Queue fear that it's really just because we're such a train wreck.)

First, we usually have some kind of summer party for all the kid birthdays lumped into one giant thing. (Sorry to my children for never getting individual parties...aim to be born as an only child in some other family in your next life. Mama tried*.) The last one we had ended up with 73 people (SEVENTY-THREE PEOPLE) (36 kids, 37 adults...thank goodness we had that one extra adult to keep everything from tumbling into mass chaos) showing up. I try to keep things simple. We blow up a couple of kiddie pools, break out the water beads, leave random water cannons lying around, make a couple dozen cupcakes and a giant pan of pulled pork, and set up a painting station that spans the driveway.

Then we host something called Misfits' Thanksgiving every year, too. That's where we take in friends (and friends of friends) who either don't have a place to go home to, can't make it home for whatever reason, or who hate their family. We've hosted for the last 8 years and have had anywhere from 5 to 27?28? damn near 30 people. I make the turkey, the standards (mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, rolls, gravy, sweet potato casserole, at least 2 other kinds of veggies, etc.), and 3 kinds of pie. I ask that guests bring their favorite side.

I'm pretty sure this all looks like a good time...but I'm not for positive because I am internally dying to run and hide the entire time, so I compensate by playing photographer, cleaner-upper, food refiller, and the person who calls someone else's husband by the wrong name and then keeps cringing about it 2 years later. (Is it too late to write a formal letter of apology and then go die in shame?)

Heaven help me. I can't WAIT to be able to blame the bus for our lack of entertaining.

Which begs the question, if I hate it so much, why do it now?

The kids.

I do it for the kids. My parents never threw parties. They never had anyone over. There were no dinner parties or birthday parties or friends over for brunch. But I suppose I don't fall far from the tree, seeing how my parents were also a couple of introverts who didn't like people, so entertaining just never happened.

But as a kid, I so desperately wanted them to be the sort of people who *did* entertain. I used to watch Yan Can Cook with rapt attention and my favorite aunt, who was an excellent hostess and routinely did parties and lunches and just all around rocked, always had Julia Child playing on a little TV in her kitchen. Oprah (and later Martha Stewart) discussing anything about how to entertain was day-making. Good Morning America's cooking segments were life. I read Woman's World and Good Housekeeping cover to cover while all the other girls were into Bop and Seventeen. Going to the mall? Forget Merry Go Round, you could find me at the Lechters. Years later and here comes Pinterest like a damn domestic wet dream. I couldn't get enough of it, and still to this day, I absolutely have to read anything that promises "10 Quick Tips to Make Your Next Dinner Party a Success".

Molly Weasley is my spirit guide.

I want the kids to have those good memories that I lack, and more importantly, I don't want them wiping out their armpits with the good napkins and applying a little more salve to their anxiety rash in the middle of a party. I want a party to be a normal, fun thing for them. I want them to *KNOW* how to act and what to say and how to not die/be forever traumatized when you fuck up someone's name. I want them to know what holidays filled with people they enjoy being around is like.

So while it would be a whole lot more comfortable for me to just cook a ton of food and eat it alone in a room lit only by the warm glow of perfection that is the scroll of my Pinterest feed, I want better for my boys. So for them, and for that young Dana collecting hostess tips like Pokémon cards, I'm going to keep on swallowing my discomfort and take the chance to show both them and the people in our lives that we care about (and who care about us) a good time.

Now, Lindsay, I haven't forgotten about you or your question. Entertaining on the bus wasn't a priority for us, but we've also seen that Skoolie culture lends itself to a different kind of entertaining that I feel might be more up my alley.

With events like Skooliepalooza, all the tiny house shows, and the fact that we'll meet most other full-time travelers (also in their small, entertaining unfriendly spaces) in parks and campgrounds and Wal-Mart parking lots, it makes sense that we'd meet on neutral ground...around the camp fire. Pot luck is the name of the game at these gatherings and the pressure is off. No one invading my space bubble. Being able to sneak away from the fire to take a breather holds massive appeal for the eternally anxious. And knowing that I can always just start my house up and drive away is an extremely comforting escape plan.

Thanks for the question, Lindsay!

If you have a question, please send it to me! If it's a new one, I'll send you a The Measure of Us sticker!

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* And yes, children of mine, I know that we skipped the giant communal birthday party last year, but Mama was still recovering from the SEVENTY-THREE people who came to the last one. 2018 is looking good though...let's try to make it a birthday/buswarming.