When I was growing up, Mom always had elaborate entertainments. She was good at it, and the linen tablecloths and crystal and china were lovely. There was a group of families at our church who often got together for meals, maybe once a month, or at least once every two months. Since we had the biggest house and the biggest family, these get together were generally at our house.
I'm not good at entertaining. I'm too scatterbrained and dingy to plan well, and I don't keep a clean enough house to be able to host things without a huge amount of prep.
For graduations and confirmation, in my memory, we generally had an open house with cake, mints, nuts, punch, coffee. Maybe cold cuts, but I don't really remember. There were a few occasions for which Mom made chocolate covered strawberries; and she often made homemade mints. But I recall that graduation and confirmation open houses were prim and proper and fancy doings.
In the midwest, a graduation (and even confirmation, sometimes) is a big deal in a different way. There is usually a "little lunch," which in Minnesota on a regular day means a bar and coffee. But on a festive day means a full meal. Salads and meat and buns and desserts or bars. Tables have a center piece with some sort of snacky thing. There is often beer and pop in coolers. Balloons, childhood pictures, yearbooks, mementoes for school days.
My oldest son just graduated last week. I really didn't know what to plan and how big to make it. But with the fact in mind that I'm not really one of those nearly professional hostesses, I decided to go small.
I baked bars and served a fruit tray with dip. I offered nuts and mints. I made a really easy punch and coffee. I had two picture boards and a few of Jeremy's high school items.
And best of all, I used the church, so I didn't need to have my house in tip-top condition. (Which was probably very obvious to any of the kids who came in with my kids while I was down at church. My kids are not supposed to bring friends up to the house during a function at church. Naughty pastors' kids! My humble apologies to any youth who were traumatized by my mess...)
But the long story is that I did it! Hurray. It wasn't even all that hard. Thanks to those who offered to make bars: Connie, Amanda, and Sharol. Thanks to Sharon who came early and helped me set up, and to Shirley who stayed after to finish cleaning up. And thanks to Alison who washed up some dishes for me in the middle of it all.
But also, I ought to thank Jeremy for graduating, the teachers at ECHO for putting up with him, and Joe's parents for raising him during these last four years. And thank you also to the many friends and relations who showed up at both the Belview open house and the one up here, to help Jeremy celebrate and to show him your support.
I want to add one more little thing here, not to play favorites or anything, but our nearest ELS church is about 35 minutes away. The pastor there, Shawn Stafford, and his wife Amy, along with their kids, Solvieg, Jonah, and Anju, have been our good friends during our almost 10 years here. They helped support us when Joe was new to parish ministry and they set an example for us when we needed advice on what might be proper or improper in a pastor's family and life. Pastor Stafford has recently accepted a call to the Harford/Manchester parish in southern Minnesota. They will be leaving in eight days. We will miss them very much.
But the point here is that even in the midst of the rush of getting everything packed and ready for a major move, they took time to come celebrate with Jeremy, and sit and visit with us. Thank you. I know you must be half crazy with stress; and have more than enough to keep you busy right now. So thank you, thank you. I know several of the members here are glad to have had one more chance to visit with you, also.