Posted by: Kate | December 7, 2008

Basking in the Afterglow

That felt good.

Really, really good.

For the past 22 days, I have not been well.  There have been good moments, even good hours, but overall, the days have been long and difficult, and I have struggled to find some semblance of balance, of self, in a crowded mire of overthinking and worry and rejection and angst.  On the one hand, I don’t think I have ever been someone who defines myself primarily by my job; I am usually able to separate who I am from what I do.  But on the other hand, I had found a job that both challenged and intrigued me every day that I worked, and losing that position so abruptly felt like a nasty jab to my identity; not to mention my sense of self-worth as wage-earner and insurance-holder.  It has been a very hard three weeks, and I know that the hard times are not over.  Lots more days of insecurity and ambivalence are in my immediate, and possibly long-term, future.

But today, I got a break.  I spent the day working hard on the type of project that I love: preparing for and throwing a party.  Willem and the kids did at least as much work as I did, and the end result was a clean house, good food and a fun evening.  I love having people over; love cooking for them and watching them interact and just entertaining, in the simplest sense of the word.  I’m not one for party games or gimmicks, and we don’t even typically have themes beyond a certain style menu and sometimes some activities for the kids.  It seems to work fine to just provide a decent spread and adequate libations, and then to just let conversation happen.

I served lasagna.  With homemade sauce, homemade pasta and homemade sausage on the meat version, sauted fresh vegetables on the vegetarian one.  (Did I mention my intense Kitchenaid-love?)  If guests asked what they could bring, I asked for “Italian-type” appetizers, sides or desserts, and their contributions were tasty and much-appreciated, not to mention playing nicely with the lasagna (in the past, we’ve had guests bring pineapple-flavored Swedish meatballs to a Carolina shrimp boil… not quite as coherent a menu, that time).  It just all came together very well, and I am not above a little bit of preening and pride over my own culinary skillz.

The reason behind the event was L’s baby shower, for which we were bombarded with unbelievably generous gifts from virtual strangers friends.  Return addresses from all over the country, plus Northwest Territory and Germany.  Gorgeous little handknit items for the new baby and big sister, gift cards in not-insigificant amounts, helpful infant care and maintenance sorts of items… all of the things you might normally see at a baby shower, made more amazing because these weren’t just gifts to a fellow message-board member, but to a friend of one, someone they’ll likely never meet in their lives.  I’m a firm believer in karma, and today, the karma was good.  Here’s a sampling…

(The file names include the name of the artist, for those interested… more photos here.)

So, so cool, all around.

Added to that, today was St. Niklaas Day, a Dutch holiday and a tradition from Willem’s childhood that we have continued, mostly in a nod to the magic-of-Santa-Claus thing without the materialism and wish-list bit.  Kids leave treats for St. Niklaas and his horse in wooden shoes (of which we do have a pair, passed on from Willem’s dad, which he frequently wore and now are worn by Willem to get the mail and such), and in the morning there are Dutch sweets in their place.  Things like stroopwafels and oliebollen mix and hagel.  In the past, I’ve forgotten until the last minute, and Willem’s father was still alive until 2006, so in some years, we’ve used regular winter boots and the “treats” were American candy.  But this year, I had already done the research and ascertained that there are no Dutch stores within a billion miles of here, so I ordered the candy and such online.  It feels good to have remembered, to have gotten it right, especially since I suspect Willem, left to his own devices, would have forgotten.

And to add even more, I spent much of the evening shamelessly ignoring our guests and doing the pace/rock/bounce routine with Jenny’s baby, who is four months old and colicky.  Jenny was able to spend some time in adult company, while her older kids played with mine, and I was able to snuggle a still-tiny baby for a few hours.  Sure, he spent a good chunk of that time screaming, but I’m hard of hearing and I knew it was all of a limited duration, so we got along just fine.  I eventually convinced him that sleep was not such a horrible idea after all, which is really one of the best sensations a human being can experience while fully dressed and in mixed company.

Just a good, good day.  And all the more so because so many of my other days, just lately, have not been good.  I should have gone to bed an hour ago, but I’m staying awake as long as I can just to remain conscious and appreciative of that goodness.


  1. Hey, Kate! I live in a town that is entirely Dutch, right down to the annual tulip festival, so if you ever need something and can’t find it–I could hook a Knitty up. 😉

    Gorgeous handknits at that baby shower! That’s one lucky little kidlet.

  2. You rock. So glad you had a great day — you’re certainly entitled.

    My husband is of Dutch descent as well, and I wish we had retained some of the traditions as you guys do. However — if you think it’s hard to find Dutch stuff there? Try the deep South.

  3. Sounds like a wonderful day!

  4. I can’t tell you how happy this little post made me. L looks positively delighted and glowing, and it all looks so happy – so much positive energy all around.

    Somebody upstairs is planning something amazing for you in the future, dear Kate.

  5. What a lovely party. L is beyond fortunate to have such an awesome friend as you Kate.

  6. I am so glad it went well and you got some much deserved joy for the day. Tell ‘L’ congratulations and we are waiting to hear good news when the little one arrives.

  7. Sounds like a fantastic undertaking I’m psyched everything was so joyous. And might I add that you’ve just added two new words to the list of my favorites… “stroopwafels and oliebollen”. I can’t wait to use them out of context and watch peoples faces go blank.

  8. Looks like a great time! Good on ya for making lasagna too.

  9. I’m glad it was a good day. L and new baby are getting a good start.

  10. Those pictures put the biggest smile on my face. Shane probably thinks his poor wife has finally gone loony as she sits here smiling to herself. Way to go Knitties! And way to go Kate and Willem for opening up your hearts and home to L and X during their hour of need. You are very special people.

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