This is not second nature to me. I grew up in a household with an informal and homey entertaining style.
My mother and step father are the Queen and King of the picnic party. Born out of the necessity of a large family and small post war suburban ranch home. BBQ’s were moms way of making the most of the situation. Come Christmas the situation became a bit more complicated. Our table for six became a buffet as a compromise and tv trays were provided. Dinner was a one-handed meal. Nothing to cut, everything ready to be stabbed with a fork. It worked pretty well, I thought and as kids we loved it. We could fidget as much as we wanted and no one said a word.
The first Christmas I spent with my husband’s family, I got an ulcer. It was so formal we could hear each other swallow. The table was beautiful. Martha Stewart could take some tips from my mother-in-law. She must have spent days making it so and as I have learned later the great art of setting a table is a still alive and well in Norway.
Since we are hosting Christmas, I am trying to combine these two things, a formal table setting with the lightheartedness of a BBQ. As our family has shrunken this past year we have fewer place settings, but I hope we can honor their spirit by keeping the same cheery tone that hubby’s great aunt was so adept at.