The Youthful Hostess

May 23, 2023


Despite having given birth to our firstborn son only three months earlier, I decided to throw a party to celebrate the Atlanta Olympics. Living in the metro Atlanta area, everyone was caught up with Olympic fever and of course, Southerners love any excuse to throw a party even if they have a new baby on their hip.  

My best and worst trait is I oversimplify everything and was positive a party for 30 or 40 women would be a breeze. 

I served an array of international foods representing 20 or so countries. Some homemade, like the Irish potato poppers, USA star-shaped cookies, and little cups of Italian tortellini with porcini sauce. I justified using store-bought items, "just this once" because of  . . . well, the new baby. 

Here I am, hostess from 1996.

International flags on toothpicks identified the country while glass bottles of hometown Coca-Cola were iced in a tub with bags of salty peanuts to pour in the fizzy drink – the cocktail of the South. 

I was giddy with excitement. 

The guests bounced the baby, dressed in a "Team USA" onesie, on their knees. 

So, here I am, all these years later, reflecting on that glorious party that earned a mention in the society column, and I think, "What in #@!* Sam Hill was I thinking?"" How did I ever have that much energy?"  "Did everyone know I was crazy except for me?" I had a three-month-old, for crying out loud. Why didn't someone grab me by the shoulders and shake the beejibbers out of me and say, "stop it!" 

I even made an Olympic wreath for the front door. 

And there were daisies tied with red, white and blue ribbons on the mailbox. 

Friends Michelle, Judy, Jean and Kitty.

Where there's crazy southern smoke, there's crazy Southern fire. We earn our reputations one party at a time. 

The hostess rite of passage is real. We grow up watching ladies throw fabulous events and can't wait to get there ourselves. I actually started early and threw theme parties for my friends and all the children in the neighborhood when I was still in high school. I wallow in my sickness and want no cure. 

But now I’ve graduated to a new level. 

The hostess ritual is now being replayed by my young friends. As the guest, they serve me using their new wedding gifts. It's precious how they've mastered the air fryer like I handled the crock pot, and my mother rocked her fondue pot. 

I remember to notice their details because it truly does matter. "I love your pumpkin soap in the powder room" or "Your flowers are an exact match to the napkins. How pretty!" 

A week after my gold medal party performance, we carried our baby through Olympic Park. Eerily, I remarked on the lack of security. "If anything bad happens, it will be here." Sure enough, later that night when we were thankfully back home, a pipe bomb exploded, killing two people and injuring over 100.

Parties with tiny paper flags and cookies seemed meaningless. Ladies in sundresses sipping cold  Coca-Colas seemed like years ago. The baby seemed more precious, and the world darker. 

As long as there are brides, there will be parties. Newlyweds will celebrate football games, new houses, the Olympics, and babies. They'll break a few pieces of wedding crystal and burn a few burgers on the grill until they get it just right. Older couples will take their turns as grateful guests and bounce the baby on their knees while the newly crowned hostess runs around like a wild woman fretting about everything being just right. 

The wicked world will try to spoil things with bombs, protests, and threats of war, but the youthful spirit of celebration will continue, even if they're stirring a porcini sauce with a baby on their hip.

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