I have the most amazing sister in law. Actually I have an equally amazing brother in law. I often say that I married Kevin only because Greg was already taken! But Greg and Bernadette (Bernie to all the family) were childhood sweethearts so I never really stood a chance with Kevin’s brother. ;-)
Bernie is amazing to me for so many reasons. She is a very hard worker in all aspects of her life, with her paid job and several UNpaid jobs. Her kids are grown and (mostly) out of the house but the Fischer door is always open, especially to them. She is always tackling some sort of home improvement project with Greg. She keeps a very neat house despite caring for an aging Yellow Lab who has her share of messes and accidents. She has been a caregiver to both her mom and our mother-in-law by taking them to multiple appointments, shopping for them, running errands, etc. She never complained about all the sacrifices of time and money those caregiving roles meant.
In addition to Bernie’s heart being always open, so are her ears. If she gets wind of something you want, need, saw but didn’t pick up, or haven’t seen but want to, trust me you’ll have it in less than a week. I don’t know how she does it, I really don’t.
I swear, if this woman would rip open her shirt, there’s another layer under there and it has a big “S” emblazoned on it.
Did I mention she is an incredible cook, baker, and hostess? Oh yeah, that too. I LOVE going to their home for holidays and get-togethers. She always makes things look so easy and effortless. Even any new and previously untested recipes turn out perfectly. When I’M hosting something I run around like a chicken the last 30 minutes before guests are due to arrive. I’m firmly convinced that 30 minutes to HER guests arriving she is lounging in a lavender-scented bubble bath.
Recently she had out-of-town relatives visiting. On Friday afternoon our phone rang, Bernie inviting us over for a farewell party the following afternoon. I asked, as always, what I could bring. The immediate response was (naturally) “Nothing, it’s all planned.” But I pressed the issue, knowing that with a group of at least 30, she could certainly use one more dish. Finally she relented and asked for a pasta salad that I make.
Knowing Bernie as I do, this get-together was a last-minute idea tossed together over lunch on Friday. So that meant in about 24 hours she’d be hosting a party for a house full of friends and family and everything would be perfectly executed. If I were in her shoes I would either have a nervous breakdown trying to accomplish the same thing, OR most likely I wouldn’t even attempt something like that without at least a week to plan.
You see, Bernie is all about casual ease and minimal effort. She has learned through the years that it is OK to ask for help, and perfectly acceptable to order large quantities of food from a caterer. She has made peace with paper plates and mismatched plastic cutlery. Everything is always delicious, pulled-together and enough to literally feed an army.
I wish I could be more like her in so many ways. I want to learn to embrace her efficiency and spontaneity. I don’t think I ever will.
Excessive planning and minute details seem to be part of my hard-wiring. I’ve read so many articles with menus that tease “Host an impromptu dinner party for eight…” I just laugh. Not only does impromptu NOT fit in my vocabulary, I never EVER have all the things in my pantry and freezer that I am supposed to for these drop-in dinners. Really, with everyone’s lives crazy busy, is it even practical to think you can host this kind of get-together? Unless you’re Rob & Laura Petrie people just don’t live that way. Or at least I console myself with that thought as a way to excuse my obsession with long-term party planning.
I think I am going to start a planning binder on how to be more spontaneous. Maybe if I work on it a little each day, say 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes in the afternoon and 10 minutes in the evening… Maybe I could get some books on organization and efficient planning… Maybe I could start a list of things I need to do to embrace all things last-minute…
I have to go. If I start my prep work now, I should be ready for that impromptu dinner party in a couple weeks.