Privilege Blog

High WASP Entertaining, The Family Gathering

Theme parties aside, the High WASP’s most favorite sort of entertaining is the family gathering. Let’s face it. It’s tiring being a High WASP. All that social signaling. I am sighing at the thought.

At family gatherings, you will not offend anyone with incorrect signals. The language is shared. You may offend someone by calling them an effing princess, as I once did, or admitting that you don’t like fruit desserts, but at least it’s clear. Not murky. Devoid of anxiety. And more often, you will sit round the table and say things like, “Remember when we were in Mexico and the mariachi band played in the villa’s living room and embarrassed us into silence and we ate all that food the cook made that we didn’t even like?” You may all be amused at the tendency of New York Times book reviewers one year to use the term “luminous” in reference to prose, and wind yourselves up into uproarious laughter deciding which books were in fact, “matte.”

In short, you are a family. In this, I imagine, much like any family. Comforting each other with shared experiences, thoughts, patterns.

One of my most dearly beloved family gatherings happened on a rare hot California night. Northern California almost always cools down at night, thanks to our marine layer. But a week or two every summer, it gets hot. This night, it was hot.

I cooked, as I always did. I don’t remember what food. It was so hot, what with the night and the cooking, that someone said, “Let’s take the dining table outside.” We dragged my old french bread-making table outdoors. Also chairs. We pulled out the candelabra and the vase which was in fact a polo tournament trophy. Picked some flowers. Lit candles. Laid mats, and napkins, unmatched plates. There were a lot of us.

Dinner On The Patio As Night Falls
We ate dinner on the patio fully served. Sat around the table for much longer than usual, watching darkness come. Eventually just breathing. An enormous sense of well-being overtook me. Perhaps it overtook us all, except as High WASPs, no one said anything much more than, “Um, yes, well, nice fish. ” Or chicken. We’re health conscious.

Because at the end it’s clearly just a family, sitting at a table, eating dinner, feeling love.

– Many of the goods above are from our friend TPP
– Yes, I noticed I said love without irony. It was difficult but necessary. It’s the truth after all.
– You will also find this post at the wonderful blog, The Blushing Hostess, along with other posts on grace in everyday living

17 Responses

  1. The cooling down at night climate was one of the primary reasons we loved southern Oregon, the weather was part of what made it our own little Shangri-la.

    As you know, we are more-than-flattered you selected some of our items to share in your Polyvore, thank you!

  2. There is always something comforting about family gatherings. I love the placemats used in the Polyvore set!

  3. So the high WASP is sentimental without acknowledging it?
    Sounds a lot like many families I know.
    That night with the dinner outside sounded lovely.

  4. Devoid of anxiety? You've clearly never been to one of our family gatherings.

    Maybe I'm just a Low WASP.

  5. Being an only child, I love family gatherings.

    Your "feeling love" part brought a smile to my face. That second line in your notes? An even bigger smile.

  6. For us it's devoid of anxiety only now. After my parents divorced. After all of us kids have had our various life-in-your-forties crises. After we realized that our family fortune was in fact gone enough to count as gone. After it dawned on us how privileged we are, despite the lack of that fortune.

    My guess is that any family would have liked that night on the patio. It was too nice not to like. But I could be wrong. I've been wrong before. More than once.

  7. we did this to celebrate my uncle's recently awarded MBE. there were lawn umbrellas, chilean embroidered scatter cushions, barbecued sea bass, four generations. italian beer. homemade baklava. conversation veered from engineering to gay snark, reminiscences of past holidays, weddings past and future, the cricket. baby bumps were admired, we giggled over bellinis, my children fell asleep on random laps as the sun set.
    this is how we roll now.

  8. *ping* the High WASP wand makes you one if you want to be one. However, the MBE only the Queen of England can grant. (An MBE? Really? Cool.)

  9. they give you a souvenir dvd of the palace, you being there and the ceremony… cue much hilarity during the party screening when my uncle forgets to actually collect his MBE and has to go back for it. dude.

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