“Every vice is only an exaggeration of a necessary and virtuous function.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals, 1836
MY vice? Planning. Parties & get-togethers of all sorts, trips & vacations, décor re-do’s, dinner menus, milestone celebrations, packing lists for any event… I LOVE to plan. I have lists and notepads and binders; my “favorites” menu on our computer is highly organized & categorized. (Just don’t look in my pantry or in any of our closets because you will never believe that I am organized OR categorized!)
I think part of this comes from my many years as an event coordinator for several non-profit health organizations. I was responsible for every detail of annual fundraising events. If I didn’t keep track of donors, participants, volunteers and timelines, my event would fail. My binders were my bibles and I thrived on planning & executing the details.
However, in my introspective moments, I realize it runs much deeper. My lists help me to remember things, of course. But my binders, my planning… These things are my way of controlling an otherwise out-of-control world. This does not mean I am a “control freak” in the sense that I have to have everything my way. It’s just that I can crack open a binder and start planning my Thanksgiving menu in August and I have the brief illusion that I’m prepared & ready to take on anything, including a 20 pound bird and sides. For a moment, I feel like Martha Stewart and a 4-Star General rolled in to one, preparing my own personal holiday/event battle plan. Seriously, does anyone NOT know that they will serve turkey, mashed potatoes & gravy, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie on the 4th Thursday of November? But for me, pouring over new twists on classic recipes, finding a fun “favor” to give our family members as they depart, reading how others in the event-planning world are going to celebrate; that’s my way to relax, & enjoy myself PLUS bring pleasure to the rest of my family. It is my respite from the swirling chaos happening outside my humble home, the sane and safe means of retreating from too much of “everything.” In the midst of
economic crises, atrocities against children, and an overload of Too Much Information on every topic known to man, this is the one thing I am in charge of. U.S.
Do I set myself up for failure as I read other blogs about women who create culinary miracles & entertaining extravaganzas in the blink of an eye? Of course. Despite all my obsessive, detail-driven, over-the-top “organization” for ANY event/holiday, I will forget to put the rolls in the oven. I will run out of time to paint family member’s names on hand-made place card holders. I will have to use our master bedroom walk-in closet as a last-minute stashing place for an extra load of laundry that didn’t get folded & put away.
There are two reasons why this doesn’t send me in to a tailspin of self-loathing and disappointment: My family is wonderful and forgiving and is just happy to be together, sharing laughter & telling stories and creating memories. It also helps that they had no idea I was planning on sending each of them home with artisan-style-but-made-in-my-kitchen chocolates nestled in original/heirloom/not mass-produced boxes tied with vintage ribbon. Maybe next year. Hmmm… Back to the binders.