“Miracles happen on Christmas, Pat. Everybody knows that shit.”
― Matthew Quick, The Silver Linings Playbook
Just Jazzy Advent Calendar
This months Peace Challenge: Party on Garth – Plan a party that will ripple peace to the world.
This post has been sitting in draft limbo for 20 days here at Breathing Space. Collecting dust and looking forlorn. Because I’m having one super non-peaceful disharmonious time getting it properly started. Sort of like a party that never got past the planning stages. That crucial first sentence is supposed to be the hook that pulls you in and makes you want to read more but Christmas has numbed my brain. Imagine each one of these really bad starts on a separate sheet of crumpled up paper used to practice basketball shots.
1. I hate parties. (That one sat around all by itself for two weeks) (Yes, it did.)
2. I dislike parties very much. Strongly. A lot. Please don’t make me go to your stupid office Christmas Party, I would rather poke myself in the eye with a stick. Make that both eyes with two sticks.
3. I am not a fan of big parties because they seem to consist of crazy noisy drunken crowds, music that’s much too loud with overlapping conversations from six different directions at once so that I get a headache and my ears start to buzz and I just want to go home. There is food sitting around at room temperature for way too long and I don’t want to get food poisoning and people who have had too much to drink always double dip. Gah. I don’t like getting dressed up or dancing (I won’t dance, don’t ask me) and what if there are stupid party games, shenanigans and contests….omg, do people still do that shit? Can I hide in the bathroom?
4. ….party pooper, stick-in-the-mud, wet blanket…. (thank you thesaurus, but where’s my picture?)
5. I am the exact opposite of the life of the party, which must mean I am the death of the party.
6. I can’t remember the last time I got invited to a party. Well. I wonder why.
7. I am not just doing this for the T-shirt you know……
Okay I’m done with the excuses and the procrastinating, as well as with trying to find my inner party animal, because I obviously don’t have one anymore. It took off somewhere around my 30th birthday and hasn’t been heard from since. I guess I don’t hate ALL parties though. Small celebrations and family get-togethers and informal dinner parties are all perfectly fine, as are kids birthday parties and conversations over coffee. This might give you the impression that any party I plan would be EXTREMELY peaceful, because everyone would pass out from boredom. You could be right.
However, think about this for a minute. What if World Peace Talks were combined with generous amounts of wine and cheese? Do you think there would be any more disputes and disagreements after, say, a case or two of Chardonnay each and twelve different kinds of cheese? Worth a try. You can’t fight about something if you don’t remember what it was you were mad about or why you showed up in the first place.
So my peace party will be a wine and cheese tasting extravaganza. I will set up a table of all those exotic cheeses you see in the grocery store deli but are afraid to buy because they’re so expensive and what if they’re gross? Well what you do in that case is bring them out and serve them to your guests, that’s what. Somebody somewhere is bound to like at least one of them. The choices are truly mind-boggling. Pay attention, I’m trying to teach you something here.
Soft Cheese: Blue Castello, Boursin, Brie, Bucheron, buffalo mozzarella, Camembert, feta, goat cheese, Gorgonzola, Limburger, Mascarpone, Muenster, Neufchatel, Pave Affinois, Teleme
Hard Cheese: Asiago, Blue, Derby, Edam, Emmentaler, Grana Padano, Gruyere, Jarlsberg, Manchego, Parmigiano, Pecorino Romano, Raclette, Reggiano, Swiss, Wensleydale, Zamarano
Semi-Soft Cheese: Bel Paese, Baby Swiss, Colby, Fontina, Havarti, Kasseri, Madrigal Baby Swiss, Morbier, Port Salut
Semi-Hard Cheese: Cheddar, Chesire, Cotija, Danish Blue, Double Gloucester, Gouda, Graddost, Panela, Provolone, Roquefort, Sonoma Jack, Stilton
Don’t worry, I’ll make up little signs on toothpicks so you know what the hell you just ate.
Same with the wine. I promise to buy a variety of red and white wines based on the proprietors recommendations and not just on my inclination to try the ones with hysterically funny names.
Soft Cheese Wines: Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Champagne, Cabernet, White Zinfandel, Vidal, Beaujolais, Bordeaux, Chianti, Sancerre
Hard Cheese Wines: Bardolino, Tawny Port, Madeira, Sherry, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Sancerre, Côtes du Rhône, Rioja, Cabernet, Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello di Montalcino, Ribera del Duero, Chardonnay, Chianti Riserva, Beaujolais, Dark Beer, Sangria, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir
Semi-Soft Cheese Wines: Chardonnay, Champagne, Riesling, Barolo, Barbaresco, Gattinara, Bordeaux, Rioja, Fleurie, Beaujolais, Chinon, Bourgueil
Semi-Hard Cheese Wines: Chardonnay, Champagne, Riesling, Cabernet, Sancerre, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chianti Riserva, Barolo, Tawny Port
My plan is to choose one cheese from each category and one wine from each complimentary category, pair them together and pretend I actually know what I’m doing.
There will be crackers and olives, nuts, strawberries and peaches, pear slices, walnut bread and strong dark chocolate. Figs, dried apricots, dates and maybe even some champagne. We’ll call that dessert.
Everyone at the party must participate in one action for peace. I will have been sampling wine all afternoon and will be in no condition to determine what exactly that action should be, so please surprise me.
Will this party bring more joy, smiles, love, and peace into the world? Well hopefully, because that would be a lot better result than just a bunch of severe wine hangovers.
On a much more serious note, this is a video on YouTube called The Empathic Civilisation from a lecture by Jeremy Rifkin. Perhaps I will make it compulsory viewing at my party. The Bloggers for Peace idea that Kozo started almost a year ago has generated just this kind of awareness of our sociability, attachment, affection, and companionship with all kinds of people that we might not otherwise have met. In our quest for peace we are certainly not alone. We are all family, and every one of us wishes to celebrate this life we’re so privileged to be living. It’s all about extending empathy until it encompasses everyone on the planet. That my friend would be one big party.
More posts for peace:
Charles Dickens, in A Christmas Carol, wrote “There is nothing in the
world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.” We are giving you exactly 33 words to make us laugh out loud and spread some festive cheer.
The year is somewhere in the early 1950’s because I am not yet six. Six is the magical age I will be when we move my grandparents off their farm to live in a brand new place with us. So the details of grandmas house should be nothing but foggy distant childhood memories by now, but they’re not. They’re as vivid to me today as the view from my own kitchen window is from yesterday. I close my eyes and the pictures come alive.
Grandmas kitchen is a fascinating place with doors to somewhere else all around the room. There’s the door I just popped through from the white pillared porch, too big and heavy to pull shut all by myself. Off to the right is the door to the woodshed. I never open that door and I make sure I hurry to somewhere else when grandpa goes to fetch wood for the black wood stove so grandma can cook things and bang her pots and pans around while she waits for the fire to be just right. Beyond that door is a dark and scary place full of damp wood smells and cold still air. And maybe dogs and wild scratching cats. I don’t want to find out what’s in there.
The door to the cellar is also closed against the darkness. I am not allowed to open that one. Grandma is sure if I do I will tumble down the stairs. I am also not permitted to go through the door beside the giant radio that’s as big as me. The radio is playing and grandpa is sitting beside it halfway across this doorway like a guard, bent over with his ear up against the soft cloth part where the voices come through. He has to do this to hear it, because grandma doesn’t like it to be too loud, although she never stops talking and banging things around to drown it out, no matter how far grandpa turns up the knob. The door behind grandpa leads to the hallway and then there’s another door to the front room. Only special company can go in to the front room. Not children. Children are to be seen and not heard, as grandma is very fond of saying over and over again so you’re not likely to ever forget it.
But I know another way to get in there. I know how to be a child who is not heard and not seen either. There is an open doorway next to the woodshed door which goes into the utility/store-room, and from there another closed door that leads to the indoor plumbing. This is what grandma calls the new bathroom. Kids are definitely encouraged to use the bathroom whenever they want and they don’t even have to ask. I quietly slip in there and click the door closed behind me. There is an enormous white tub beside a tiny white sink, and off in the corner like an afterthought, the shiny new toilet, snug up between the wall and three stair steps leading up to yet another door. This is the one I sneak through and close silently so that I am standing on the landing, where a left turn leads to the upstairs.
I never go all the way up these stairs (there is no one up there to save me from whatever frightening things the second story harbors), but I like to go halfway. I am small enough to fit my head and one arm and shoulder through the spindle railing under the shiny brown banister at just the right spot. There on a flat-topped bureau below me sits a beautiful yellow-green cut glass pedestal bowl filled with luscious wax fruit. There is a golden apple with a rosy red blush on one fat round side, looking good enough to eat, although it’s not. I tried to bite into it once and was unpleasantly surprised and sorely disappointed. The marks from my teeth are still there to remind me of the experience. There is also a cluster of blue-violet grapes, a bumpy tangerine orange and a creamy golden banana. I like to look at them and touch them, pulling my fingertips across their sticky waxy skins.
Now, instead of retracing my steps and returning to the bathroom, I tiptoe down the three stairs that lead in the opposite direction from the landing and into the hallway. Slowly, silently I creep towards the front room door and at the last minute, scoot across behind grandpa, inside and around the corner where I stop and hold my breath until I’m sure no one has seen me.
Grandmas front room has the most incredibly beautiful windows I have ever seen in my short little life. They are tall and clear in the middle and they let the sunshine come streaming through to light up big bright patches on the hardwood floor. On either side of each window are small rectangular panes of pebbled coloured glass. Sky blue, sunshine yellow, and best of all, brilliant red. I press my nose up to my favourite red one (it’s my favourite because it’s the only one I can reach by balancing on the arm of the big stuffed chair) and gaze out at a crazy red world. The leaves on the trees are red; the sky, the grass, the fence and every one of grandmas flowers – everything. Magically, unbelievably red, red, red. I want the glass to swallow me up into this delicious red bubble where I can be as red as a riding hood, as red as a real apple, crunchy and sweet, as red as my red flyer wagon, spinning down a slippery red slope into a land where red never stops.
Oh oh. I hear grandma wondering in a very loud voice where I’ve gotten myself off to. I hear her go clumping away and barging through the bathroom door. In a flash I hop down off the chair, run back out into the hallway and through the forbidden door where I put my flushed cheek up against grandpa’s arm and clutch hold of his overall pant leg. He doesn’t even look up. There you are, grandma exclaims as she marches back into the kitchen. I didn’t see you. Were you right there all along? She was, grandpa chuckles. Right here beside me. Quiet as a mouse, just like always.
The big radio is a wonder, the wax fruit, the many doors and the beautiful stained glass windows – I love them all. But perhaps the best thing in this house full of doors is having a grandpa who’s as good as I am at keeping sneaky secrets.
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