a peek inside the fishbowl

05 Jul, 2018

Are you an entertainer?

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

… and by ENTERTAINER, I don’t mean that you’re a juggler or a circus performer, or the kind of person who’ll suddenly lean over and pull a quarter out of someone’s ear. What I mean is, do you like to entertain? If you had to rate your love of entertaining on a scale of 0-10, how much do you enjoy it? Zero means you don’t want anyone to ever set foot in your place of residence while you are alive, and ten signifies that you’re practically an event planner who thrives when there’s always someone at your place or about to drop by and you wouldn’t have it any other way because this is the Natural Order of Things.

My recent Canada Day post got me thinking about this topic. If you spend any time online in the week leading up to Canada Day you have surely seen articles about “Fun Activities for your Canada Day Bash,” or “12 Recipes for a Canada Day Cottage Party,” or “Best Canada Day Desserts For Your Canada Day Picnic.” I’m sure the rest of the world thinks that Canadian gather at cottages and lakes in great crowds, drink beer and eat strawberry shortcakes and burgers by the bushel. And in some places, I know it’s true. Some people spend Canada Day that way, and it’s nice, I’m sure.

I have never in my life hosted a Canada Day party, and you know what’s weird? I feel bad about this.

I wish I was an entertainer. I like everything about having people over. I like people. Talking to people. Learning about people. Finding out what makes them tick. I like laughter, and hearing other people’s’ stories and perhaps contributing my own and Generally Expanding My Horizons. I like food. I like preparing it and eating it. I like to see people eating my food and (hopefully) enjoying it. I like to have a cold drink and I like to share cold drinks with someone, or a bunch of someones, in a nice setting.

When we renovated our home we talked about entertaining more often. The “old” space just wasn’t good for it, and Mark and I told ourselves that this new, more open space was PERFECT for entertaining. The back deck off the kitchen, perfect for small gatherings! The new tankless gas BBQ is perfect for grilling something up for a crowd at a summer gathering! But guess what, I can probably count on one hand how many times we’ve hosted dinner parties and the like. I don’t know why this is the case. I know parties. I have childhood memories of my parents entertaining friends. I was always sent to bed early, but I remember. I remember the food my mother would prepare. I was especially intrigued by grapefruits with cocktails spears all over them, each one was a little kebab of cubed salami and a cheese. Such deliciousness! In Czech culture, it’s traditional to serve open-faced sandwiches (really, it’s a thing) and my mother assembled multiple trays of them ahead of time: Sliced baguette with crab salad and a little smidge of red pepper for decoration, or ham and egg, prettily sliced with a little gherkin on top of each one. Back in those days, everybody smoked and drank. I remember waking up to overflowing ashtrays and half-empty glasses. Once, I mistook one for water and I was thirsty so I took a big drink. It was not water. (Hey, this was the 70s and 80s after all!)

The entertaining gene seems to have skipped me over. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I remember the countless birthday parties we hosted for our own kids. One side of me really enjoyed doing this for them. I liked planning a fun party they’d like, and there were many. But, but, but. I would get snappish in the hours beforehand. I felt like the burden was on me to plan, organize, and execute, and when it was done, I was always so utterly exhausted. How could I be so miserable in the hour before we were all supposed to be having so much fun?

If I really think about it, I’m anxious. About what, I have no idea, but I just can’t just relax about it very easily.

In Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project, one of her rules of happiness is “Be Gretchen.” In other words, learn to accept the person you are. I’m usually quite happy to “Be Andrea.” It’s become a bit of a mantra. Even though people have been known to change over time, I can’t change the core of who I am as a person. I can’t change the path I’ve taken, nor who I have become, so there’s no point comparing myself to anyone who I may have perceived to “make it.” We’re not rich, but we’re healthy and happy, and that’s all that really matters.

So where does “Be Andrea” fall into the idea of entertaining at home? I’m not sure, exactly. I accept that I’m largely an introvert, albeit one that works in a job that requires me to be “out there” some of the time. Remember that by definition, an introvert is someone whose internal batteries are charged when they’re in a quiet space. For me, that’s reading, or walking, or writing, although these things don’t necessarily have to be a solitary pursuit. An extrovert’s batteries are charged when they’re surrounded by other people. They’re the centre of the party, whereas introverts are usually deep in conversation in a corner somewhere. That’s me.

So going back to the dinner party thing… I suppose the only thing that’s stopping me, is me. I want to entertain more frequently, so why don’t I just do it? Then again, why beat myself up for not being an entertainer?


4 Responses to "Are you an entertainer?"

1 | Claudette

July 6th, 2018 at 1:49 pm

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We too thought after the reno we would do more entertaining.

Oh sigh…

Time is one thing. You know our family, with the kids and the sports…some days when we’re home alone and it’s the first day in two weeks that we have no place to be, we just don’t want to go to the trouble to entertain. At the same time, it ‘would’ be nice to have some friends over, just tell everyone to bring something….

I don’t know.

I struggle with the same kind of questions you do.

2 | Lynn

July 7th, 2018 at 7:55 am

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I think this is becoming more common in our age group, with the way life is so busy. I value my down time and I can’t handle the stress right now of adding An Event hosted at my place.

But that said, my husband has been pointing out a lot lately that we are getting closer to an empty nest, and maybe we should ramp it up a bit with getting closer with our friends. So we have been trying to do more casual stuff – having just one couple over for a BBQ on the weekend, or having one couple over for a games night on a Saturday. It almost feels forced at times but I think it will be worth it in the long run.

3 | Erica

July 7th, 2018 at 7:22 pm

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You would probably like the book “Quiet” by Susan Cain if you haven’t already read it…it’s a really good book about being an introvert, how important it is to recognize your own characteristics and how best to make the most of them.

4 | andrea tomkins

July 10th, 2018 at 12:03 pm

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I’ve read Quiet. I found the first half to be really insightful, the second half was less compelling… but it’s still a good way to understand the differences between introverts and extroverts. (And both are needed to make the world run smoothly!)

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark. We have two daughters: Emma (19) and Sarah (17). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger, and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999... which makes me either a total dinosaur or a veteran, I'm not sure which! The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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