We are beginning to venture out, get back to work, and enjoy time outdoors. While we all did our part to flatten the curve during the colder months in quarantine, creativity flourished.
I would be remiss if I didn’t express my delight in the imagination that quarantine life has pulled out of so many people, myself included. Our family’s creative mettle was truly tested this past spring as we came up with clever and simple ways to celebrate Henry’s high school graduation.
Along with everyone else celebrating graduates, we postponed hosting a traditional party, lived without a traditional school ceremony, and eliminated any sort of debauched senior revelry. However, newfound ways lauded our graduate: a pennant parade, an intimate family evening, balloons, and personalized yard signs.
I am taking on our 4th of July celebrations with creativity as well—or at least an alternative to our traditional mass social gathering—as we embark on our annual journey to our happy place, an old house in the Catskill Mountains. The Upstate New York location has been the site of my family’s summer retreat for several generations and is an integral part of our summer diary, launched on the 4th of July weekend.
Reconnecting with friends of all ages in our mountaintop community at the annual 4th of July party typically involves a gathering of many and a bountiful buffet dinner topped with a stellar fireworks show. While we hope to be outdoors with friends on the 4th and set off our own fireworks at dusk, the revelry will be quieter and most likely at home.
I have flags to slip into the decorations at the table, but I’m especially looking forward to simple gatherings with our mountaintop view as a patriotic backdrop. I cherish my summer time off and prefer a simple and uncomplicated schedule. It’s the simple life of unscheduled time that’s supposed to make summer easy. Often that idea is merely just that, a thought that can’t compete with activity that lures us to fun.
My family prefers to be outdoors surrounded by the soaring trees and clover-filled fields that texture the property. The task of social distancing is one that we can meet with flying colors. I know that our flowers won’t disappoint. Hydrangeas and black-eyed Susans will bloom in full bounty as they await my calling to be cut and placed in vintage enamel pitchers on the table that anchors the patio. I’ll turn to my cupboards for my favorite blue-and-white tablecloth, then finish the table setting with pieces that collectively nod to effortless elegance.
Transition spaces, like our green-painted front porch, provide shade from the beaming sunlight. A few years back, I added an arrangement of wicker furniture with my favorite fern fabric that nods to the verdant fern-filled woods beyond. It’s perfect for lazy afternoons with a book or an evening of appetizers and wine with friends. Small plates and a drink or two might, in fact, be what this summer is about. Forget plans for elaborate gatherings with all of the formal fittings. Entertaining in its most basic form will steal my attention and up-front preparation. Simplicity can sometimes prove more of a challenge, but I’m ready to take on what’s necessary for great conversation and meaningful time with our dearest friends.
Everyone has creativity within them, and now is the time to use it. Why not channel it toward making a lovely gathering for loved ones and friends? Our new directed way of life forces originality. That originality is going to form memories, too. Isn’t that the reason we gather?