For years, I strived to host perfect holiday parties, as if they were an exam to pass. Hours before guests arrived, I dressed the table with my porcelain best, each item set precisely in its place. Thin lines of shimmering silver bordered its delicate rose pattern. Folded linen napkins bloomed on the plate.
My china, a wedding gift from 1980, held not a single chip or scratch. I’d stand on a chair to retrieve the set from its protected place—high in the cabinet over the refrigerator. With each tiptoed reach, I handled the pieces as if they were eggshells.
Next, I’d pull the walnut silverware chest from the kitchen drawer and open its hinged top to rouse the silver, nestled in its red velvet bedding. Salad and dinner forks parked to the left; dinner knife, teaspoon and soup spoon set to the right.
Even with festive conversations over a feast of full plates, I felt fragile. What if someone viewed the food, my house, or me as less than perfect? I worried any detail would crash at any minute and my insecurities would break open for all to see.
I handled my parties like eggshells.