My Next Dinner Party


photo credit: Ashley Mayer


As for table decorating, it is hard to beat a simple, large plate whose design and color don’t compete with the food, a simple glass that makes the wine seems to float in air, a great big soft napkin of any color that strikes your fancy, and pots of field flowers (or weeds), or a few poppies. Lee Bailey 

Here’s an idea: assuming we only invite people whom we like to dinner, why not tell them just how much? This idea came to me when my husband returned home from a Rotary meeting one morning last week.

Our life in a nutshell: Paul seems to wake up dressed and push off like Superman. That’s what I called him back in the days he wore a three-piece suit to work. I hardly saw him. Whereas I rise slowly, brew a pot of coffee and write my Morning Pages–three pages longhand—followed by my gratitude journal entries, every day, before I even talk to anyone. So I knew something about what Paul was talking about when he said they were visited at Rotary by David Brooke, aka That Gratitude Guy.

A former Nordstrom store manager, for the past 7 years David “The Brooker” Brooke has been speaker, life coach, author, and teacher on the transformative power of gratitude, a self-described “social entrepreneur.” His message: “… no matter how stressful or tragic, (any situation in life) can be reframed and refocused into a fulfilling journey, by using the simple principles of gratefulness.”

Now I’ve probably been keeping gratitude journals longer than David’s been running workshops, so I know firsthand what he’s saying. To put it simply, starting each and every day with a gratitude list—five things for which I am grateful—has me looking up, not down. Getting off on the right foot, so to speak. Lord knows it’s way too easy to start off on the wrong one, and spend the rest of the day catching your fall.

At the breakfast meeting of The Rotary Club of San Juan Island, David passed out cards and asked each member to select a partner and write down attributes he or she appreciates about that person, then give the card to him or her. I read my husband’s card, written by a very new friend, and saw that he nailed it. All my husband’s best qualities on one card, which I have put away in a dresser drawer—to be taken out whenever I need to be reminded.

So at my next dinner party, I am going to borrow a page from David Brooke. We’ll each pick a partner and write down as many attributes as we can about the other for one minute. Then share it with him or her.

This I know before any consideration of food, wine, and what I love most, the linens and dishes and table setting—so much so that I dream of my late grandmother’s butler pantry. It’s a recurring dream of mine in which the pantry figures as prominently as any other room in the Connecticut manse.  Gram had more glasses and dishes than Crate & Barrel, and in the dead space above the mile-high cupboards, rolls and rolls of paper towels. She could house whatever she wanted to store in that pantry.

Gram would have loved Costco. And I would have loved parlor games.


Filed under dinner party, gratitude, table setting

4 responses to “My Next Dinner Party

  1. What a great ending sentence to a rather pleasant and cohessive piece. The idea og gratitude has been of particular value to me and could be to anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one. Grief, though a necessary element in the healing process is such a negative, debilitating emotion. It must be of very limited time and scope and then turned into gratitude as soon as possible. Within days! Gratitude, what a powerful emotion it is. So, when you are down, perhaps spinning inward from grief over the loss of someone so dear to you, turn that grief to gratitude. Be thankful for the time you had to spend with that lived one, and the things that loved one taught you, no matter how short the duration or scope. For, without it, you would have nothing at all and how dreary such a life would then be. Thank-you cousin.

    • I love how you put it, Trent. Yes, after a time gratitude can even see us through grief. I see all my departed loved ones now in different ways, but ways that are life-enriching. My grandfather is in tomato plants, red salvia, and red geranium. Don is in men’s scratchy wool cardigan sweaters. My other grandmother in Arrowroot cookies & tea, which she always took together like it was the most pleasurable moment of the day. Interesting that I would find this grandmother in her pantry, in my dreams, for she was all about large family gatherings and feasts. When I was away at school, her letters to me always consisted of who came for the occasion and what she served.

  2. Paula Wolcott

    Hi Kim
    I’d love to be at that dinner party !

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