I think perhaps I was destined to be in the service industry.
For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed hosting a party of one kind or another and I cannot remember the last time I didn’t work on a long weekend (unless you count the last two years of not working at all).
When I was a kid, I was always looking for more people to join in on an outing or a game. My parents were the kind of people who really meant it when they said, “stop by if you’re in the neighbourhood”. Sharing quality time with friends and family was always a highlight of every season, and it always involved looking after people with food and activities.
I have written in past columns of my mom’s ingenuity in planning childhood birthday parties – cool games and fun cakes were her specialty. But my first experience with how real party planning worked came with my parents’ notion for having people over before the summer season ended.
I think it was my dad who said, “I know, we’ll have a pool party!” The only thing was, we didn’t have a pool. We lived in a duplex that had a small, sloping fenced yard. But my dad would not be deterred. He knew it was a good marketing tactic to invite people to a pool party. Who doesn’t want to have fun by the pool?
So, he went out to get an inflatable kids’ pool (so we could make it official) and my mom started to make food for the masses.
There were cabbage rolls galore, and cream cheese dip with pineapple to go with celery and carrot sticks (it was the 1970s, after all). Cold cuts, cheeses, sweet pickles and Ritz crackers were arrayed on our bread board (we didn’t call them charcuterie boards in those days). Salads, buns, watermelon—the table was full in the afternoon, and decimated by the evening. Everyone went home full and happy. The party became a yearly occurrence through my teen years, amidst other seasonal gatherings.
You can see how it isn’t a big stretch to understand how I grew up and married a chef and now live with a harvest table in my backyard for hosting lots of friends. But there is a catch. I can hardly ever get anyone to come over.
Being in the business of helping people host parties by supplying the food means that we are working when everyone else is partying. When we have a day off after a big weekend of working (like the one coming up), everyone else is back working. Can you see my dilemma?
There are disadvantages in every profession, and this is one with a service job. But it’s okay, I mostly don’t mind. The joy I get from being part of making a celebration happen is even more than the joy I feel as just one person at a party.
Our friends and family are sometimes disappointed when we can’t attend events with them. I like to believe it makes it even more special when we can be there, and I know they love it when we bring food.
Eventually we do get to the shoulder season, when we have a chance to host people ourselves before Mother Nature closes the window of opportunity on outdoor meals. That is our grand finale to the summer.
I wish all of you a glorious long weekend, whether you are enjoying quiet time alone or loud, messy gatherings with loved ones. May it be full of delicious memories and laughter.
If I could ask a favour, it is to give a smile or perhaps a word of thanks if you spend time with any hardworking service folk.
That is the food that fuels us as we flutter around the party on the outside of the fun. You will make our weekend a special one too if you can remember to share your joy.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.