I have a pet peeve. Well, I have lots of pet peeves, but this particular one I was discussing with a friend recently, so I thought I'd blog about it. And the pet peeve is this: life is too short to not celebrate. What I mean is, you don't need a special occasion or reason to celebrate. And by celebrate, I mean, get together with friends and family and just BE together, for fun, food, an adventure, whatever. We're big on celebrating here. Sure, we do it up big for birthdays and holidays, but we also celebrate the every day - a spontaneous BBQ with the neighbors, a last-minute coffee date with friends, an open door policy that means anyone can stop by, anytime, and just hang out. It's not a big deal, nor does it cost a lot of time, money, or effort. The simplest thing - a weeknight dinner, stopping by with a coffee treat, or s'mores around the fire pit with whomever stops by - is what bonds people and makes memories. And when it's all said and done, your memories are all you really take with you.
But the problem is, so many people balk at "celebrating". Because it's too much trouble to send out invites. Because they don't want to clean the house. Because people might mess up the house. Because the thought of a bunch of teenagers running rampant through the house strikes fear in their hearts. Because they don't want to feed the crowd. Because they want to paint first, or get new carpets, or window treatments, or re-landscape the backyard. Because, because, because.........and before you know it, they never celebrate. So, those of us who DO celebrate become the hosts. Always. Every. Single. Time. Or we're the ones who coordinate the coffee dates, or dinners out, or camping trips or softball party, or book club. And after a while, it's a little defeating to be the person doing all the work in this one-sided relationship of friends.
My friend was commenting on how she's put a lot of effort into getting a group together, only to realize she's the ONLY one ever doing it. And, though the participants of the group come and have a good time and seem to value the friendship, they never reciprocate. They are attendees but never hosts. They happily go on the group outing but never coordinate it. They show up but they don't put up. And the sad thing is, the do-ers, the hosts, the coordinators, eventually give up, thinking the friendship must not be valued enough to keep working on it in their one-sided attempt to celebrate life.
Now, speaking as a person who is the do-er, the host, the coordinator, I'm not going to change my ways anytime soon. But I'm here to tell you, it's NOT THAT HARD! Who cares if your house is perfect or you have your party catered or you can't afford to participate in a group vacation to an expensive locale? That's not what it's about. Celebrating life is about being with the people you love. It does not matter the venue or the menu. No matter the dress or success. People who want to celebrate the big and small events of life really don't care where you live or how much money you make.
So, why not try it? I know people who have never hosted a child's birthday party in their house for fear of the mess. Do it! Kids are amazing, lovable, funny creatures that will have you in stitches. Yes, there might be a spill or two and a few tears, but you'd be amazed at how well-behaved and sweet kids can be in a party setting. Never once, in all the 60 plus birthday parties I've hosted over the years since I've had kids has their been an irrevocable accident or horrible disaster. That doesn't count the many Halloween parties, Christmas gatherings, St. Patrick's day feasts and Fourth of July barbeques we've had as well. Not one disaster. Not even a broken plate. And the way I see it? If something gets broken while celebrating, well, then, that's life.
That's not to say I don't value my possessions or my home. I do! I love my house and all the things in it (well, except for the tumbleweeds of dog hair). But I've experienced nothing but respect when it comes to visitors. Sure there was the one time my daughter's friends threw Cheerios at each other and I found them for DAYS in the couch crevices, and the time someone spilled orange pop on my digital photo frame (it wiped right off and didn't damage the frame at all). There was once wax spilled on the carpet from a tipped candle (an iron and a paper bag = miracle cure!). But really? The worst part of having a party, or having friends over, or any type of hosting is the dishes, the vacuuming and the wiping off of tables afterward. Which takes, oh, about a half hour. Less if everyone pitches in.
So, I challenge you. Not the hosting type? Not the coordinator? Have a friend you've been "meaning to get together with"? Stop being the show-upper and be the do-er! Call that friend and set a specific time and day to meet for coffee or lunch. Have your kids' next birthday party at home (oh, did I mention how much money you can save?). Invite the neighbors over for dinner (make lasagna and a salad, pick up a loaf of pre-made garlic bread and open a bottle of wine - simple!). It doesn't have to be fancy, expensive, or fussy. Just do it.
And don't let those friendships slip away because you're "too busy" to get together. Stop sending the message that you'll "get together someday" when you KNOW it's never going to happen unless one of you picks up the phone, or sends the Facebook message or texts. Be the one who does it. And next time you find yourself suddenly kid-free, as I did the other night for a couple of hours, don't do what I did and think "man, I'd love to go out and have a drink but who'd be available on such short notice?" Instead of driving home and wishing you'd gone out, as I did, just call up some friends. You'd be surprised to find out, as I did, that someone WAS available and really needing to have a little break too. Next time I won't second-guess. I'll just go. Because life's too short. Just do it.