Tuesday, June 03, 2014

On house parties, hobos, and memories

Many years ago, we held our first house party. It was part housewarming, part open-house. We invited nearly everyone we knew - friends, coworkers, family, neighbors. Every 1,275 sq ft of the house was packed with merry-makers.

I wasn't really a crafter that long ago. I might have been creative, but I definitely didn't knit. Or spin. Or weave. I might've just started cross-stitching... Anyway, the point is, every room was free of the "secret" cache of crafty-bits - no ort jars, no open-this-and-shove-a-half-knit-sock-in-it drawers, no baskets overflowing with spinning fiber, no 36" wide loom looming in the corner of the dining room. Essentially, the house was cleaner, less cluttered, and still had that lingering stale cigarette scent from the previous owner.

The house was decked out for the holidays. In addition to the 1 full-size tree, I had a scattering of smaller trees decorated throughout the house. Every room had Christmas-ness going on! The beginning of my snowman collection was on display, too. Empty step on the staircase? Opportunity for a wintery vignette! Also, tripping hazard.

That was our first Christmas in the house, and I don't think we've decorated to that extent since. Sure, there were a couple of years when we had the artificial (but super-realistic) tree in the bedroom and installed a live tree downstairs. But mostly, we've scaled back on the Christmas decorations since we end up spending the holiday driving around and visiting nearby family. We've also spent more than one winter elbow-deep in some renovation or another - bathroom, electric, basement, bedroom, other bedroom, dining room...When we brought LucyCat into the house, I was more hesitant than usual to decorate, especially with any type of tree, simply because she was so super-skittish, uncoordinated, and I was sure there would be a Christmas decor massacre every morning. And night. I've fortunately been proven wrong the last few years - she's as uninterested in the decorations as she is uninterested in being held.

If I recall correctly, I did all of the food prep myself. No caterers for me! My mom came up and helped, and my dad was put in charge of spinning tunes in the basement as well as minding the chimenea outside. He came prepared for the night wearing a Carhartt one-piece. There was quite a bit of snow on the ground from earlier snowstorms, and the temperatures were definitely January-esque. The basement is unheated, and even more so when the Bilco door is propped open all afternoon and into the evening.

Throughout the party, people were invited to tour the house. By this point, we'd redecorated every living space. In each room, we had before and after pictures to show what we'd done. It was set up to be self-guided, and we definitely encouraged everyone to wander around. Having the whole house open to partying definitely helped with the crowd - I never felt like we had more than 25 folks in the house, but I know we had closer to 50. It was nice to see each room full of friends and family. Even the bathroom got some party action - I think we had 6 people in there at once!

At some point in the evening, Mike's bosses arrived. Their wives paired off and explored on their own, and I found them in the kitchen just before they left. They were talking to my mom about how lovely the house was, and how great of a job we'd done with the redecorating. The one wife was particularly impressed, though, with what we'd done for the homeless.

Boss 1's wife: "I didn't realize how selfless Mike and Heather were!"
Boss 2's wife: "It's very admirable what they are doing."
My mom, looking perhaps a little confused....
Boss 1's wife: "You know, because they've opened their house to a homeless man..."
Boss 2's wife: "...the man that lives in the basement?"
Me: "You mean my dad?"

Turns out, while everyone was traipsing through the house, anyone that braved the basement was told by my record-spinning, fire-poking father that he wasn't allowed upstairs, he lived in the basement, and he was homeless. And I imagine with him wearing the Carhartt oversuit and scuffed winter boots and a ratty knit hat, he very much looked the part of someone down on their luck.

I think it's time we throw another house party!


Robin said...

Yeh, that's what she said!

Anonymous said...

Your dad is friggin' hilarious. Craft-house party next??? You could have someone winding skeins of yarn in the basement saying that they're an indentured servant.