I have been clearing out my “friend” list and have had the wonderful joy of throwing a Holiday Oyster Roast every year for 29 years! This year, people that have come for many years have started calling and emailing to know the date. The problem is that most of these people (that have been asking) have rarely if ever reciprocated with any sort of invitation for many years. I have decided not to include these families in this year’s event. (If I do hear of one of their parties, they usually say something like “it was only couples” which apparently means I am not welcome now that I am single and I have never been given the opportunity to bring a date (which I would if I were included).
These people have finally reached the offensive point of not being worth my time. Over the years, several of these families seem to “expect an invitation” then show up very early and demand that I serve dinner immediately “because their kids are hungry and they have another event to go to.” They rarely if ever bring a hostess gift and last year, there were many brought that I never even saw nor knew who to send thank you notes to. Believe it or not, my “friends” opened all the wine, cheeses, cookies, crackers and homemade candies that others left under my Christmas tree or in the kitchen and helped themselves though there was a bar set up with cocktails, champagne, beer and wines as well as kid beverages and hot chocolate.
I had set a beautiful dinner buffet up in my dining room (serving pieces, dishes, polished silver) and had timed all the dished that required baking or warming to be served on the buffet at 7:30. Cocktails and appetizers along with oysters were served beginning at 7pm (as the invitation read). We had also set up a S’mores bar and I had expected parents would help younger children make their S’mores. Instead, parents kept asking me to make them for their kids or letting them destroy (grabbing handfuls of marshmallows and toppings, spilling them all over the floor) what should have been a beautiful fun family event into my being unable to visit with any of our friends.
When dinner was finished cooking, I had asked a friend to hold onto the timer and help me get food to the table. Instead these pushy people, started grabbing other silverware, dishes from our kitchen drawers (the buffet had plates, silver and napkins as well.)and serving themselves. Several guests never even got to eat as many of these pigs went back for seconds and thirds and needless to say, the food never got from the oven to the buffet rather was dove into the second it was pulled out of the oven so folks outside enjoying the oysters never knew dinner was served.
At the end of the evening, I had a trifle as well as the s’mores coffee and had begun cutting into a coconut cake a friend had brought for me to take to my mother for her holiday party the following evening. I am appalled to say I even know people that behave like that. Topper of the evening was the woman that brought her aggressive Pit Bull though she was well aware that there were many babies and toddlers as well as our own pets.
I cannot decide if these hideously rude people are just lacking manners because they were raised by morons or they are morons. I find that having been raised in a very Southern proper home, that I (of course) said nothing, however it was the first time I have witnessed such a pathetic lack of even the slightest bit of decency. Needless to say, I certainly did not receive a thank you note from any of these people either. I am kindly thanking my lucky stars to not feel the need to include any of them this year. Casual friendships are one thing, over casual at a seasonal party with many guests from varying backgrounds showed me that my oldest and dearest friends are far more gracious that these people. Sad, but true, this year’s event will be far more intimate that in the previous few years. Manners are apparently out of style with the masses and as I have tried to expand a lovely tradition to include others, it is obvious why one should stick to socializing with their own kind.
I entertain on a large scale as well but in recent years have scaled back to more intimate gatherings in large part due to my growing disillusionment with the utter lack of reciprocal hospitality of my guests. You and I love to expand the friendship tent pegs to get to know as many people as possible and use our personal hospitality as the avenue by which we do this. But at various points over the years, one has to assess the success of those efforts and come to conclusions that some “friends” are nothing more than moochers, constantly taking from you and offering nothing of themselves in return. I still host at least one large annual event that is open to many people but I do not have any expectation that my guests are coming with the purpose of deepening our friendship. Those large events focus on maintaining community ties whereas the more special events are reserved for close, intimate friends. My suggestion for you is host an annual event for all you know BUT scale back on what you serve. Friends of ours used to host an annual oyster roast where the only thing provided by the host was the fire, oysters and paper products. Everyone else brought side dishes. Save your elaborate buffet dinner for more intimate gatherings.