Place: The Living RoomTime: After the children are fed
Dress: Thrift store fare. Formal (women and girls) Flannel (men and boys)
It's become tradition, this fancy dinner. Tonight is the third edition. Women put dinner in the oven, feed the children, exchange jeans for gowns. Doors are shut all over the house as everyone dresses.
Little girl eyes sparkle delight. Lithe bodies swish, swirl. "Look, Papa, Grandpa!"
"Oooh! You're gorgeous! So pretty!"
Mamas appear from behind the closed doors. Mother bodies swish, swirl. Am I still? eyes ask. Am I still your beautiful girl?
Yes. Oh, yes echoes round the room.
And the men, the men that we love, lumberjack men in soft flannel, bubble over with good humor and cheer.
We sit around the table. Velvet. Flannel. Sequins. Flannel. Taffetta. Flannel. And the children serve. "Would anyone like a glass of wine." Six adults coach five young ones through the art of presenting, pouring."No, Lil. You can't have a sip out of my glass. Wait."
"Care for a salad?"
"Coffee and dessert?"
Dishes come and go with a newly aquired ease and grace. We look at these beauties and see adults on the horizon. Conversation and candlelight. The last dish cleared. Table pushed to the wall. On with the dance.
Cousins clasp hands, circle, step in, step out. Feathers and flannel, a comfortable place in a husband's arms, bodies close and graceful, grace that is polished by time. I dance with my boys. Joy and abandon with the preschooler. We jump, swing, gallop. He joins the cousin circle. It's my teenager's turn. He leads. A new skill, tender, sweet. He guides, circles, stiff and unsure but gains confidence as he goes. The song changes and he steps away to test his accomplishment on another partner, "Grandma, will you dance with me?" The sun is setting on his childhood.
After a time, the dancers wander away. Only Claire and her favorite uncle remain and then even she tires. Dresses return to closets. All climb into flannels and knits. Sleepy heads rest on pillows...relive the evening...make plans for the next soiree. Come October at the beach. A tradition to keep.