That dinner parties were banned in lockdown was one of the few upsides of Covid 19 – because throwing a dinner party is one of the most stressful things many of us undertake and this stress is made worse when guests deviate from the usual bottle of wine as their arrival gift or offering. Wine is so easily received and dealt with, plus it is likely to come in handy if the guests prove to be particularly thirsty.
But flowers as a gift, much less so.
Don’t get me wrong, I like flowers. Who doesn’t like flowers? Flowers are beautiful and fragrant. The pungent aroma of lilies can make the spirit soar. I might even love flowers but not when we have things in the oven that shouldn’t be anymore, and other things in the fridge that should be.
I can just chuck a bottle of wine in the fridge or just ignored (red) but flowers are altogether more involved. Flowers need to be dealt with quickly because they’re perishing before our eyes. Odd to receive a gift that is dying, no?
Nikki, where are the vases? We have vases, I know we have vases but can I find them? Where could the vases have gone? Vases are not like scissors which are useful elsewhere in the house and could be anywhere… None of our boys are likely to ever commandeer a vase.
And it has to be the right vase as well. Size and style appropriate. Not too big or else the flowers are lost or too small, so they can’t breathe…
I can’t find a vase. I’m going to use this jug.
Plus the wrapping needs to come off: yards of cellophane and paper all tightly bound with poncey chord and likely to completely fill up our bin. And not forgetting the food sachet which needs to be opened because we can’t feed our guests and not our flowers. So scissors then. Where are the scissors? Who had the scissors last?
And the evening pans out as sort of planned and wished for. The booze doesn’t run out and there is not too much food uneaten. Compliments to the chef are duly paid. No tears, hopefully and some laughs too. Contentious subjects avoided and arguments swerved. And finally, thank the lord, the event winds down and draws to a close with one guest making the first move. Eye contact with a spouse and the mention of an Uber and their fictional early start the next day. A child’s football match, perhaps? And with this the exodus begins. Coats are retrieved. Keys and phones are gathered and the hosts pre-bed clear-up can begin. Cooking pots are filled to soak overnight, maybe a dishwasher cycle begins and perishable food is covered in cling and put in to the fridge, to be thrown out days later.
The guests might have gone but the flowers remain and the host is tasked with keeping them alive; topping up the water and sometimes even changing it completely when it’s becoming brown and smelly. Retrieve any leaves that are shed and fish out dead and slimy stalks until it is time to discard them completely which is always a messy task. Smelly and dirty and what exactly do we do with dead flowers?
Luckily we have a composter, put to great use with the waste from making all my Fruit Bowls which regular readers of mine will be familiar with.
And so for these reasons, flowers are not a gift. Not really.
Flowers are in fact a chore.
Flowers are work to do and too often for little return.
Unless that is, the flowers are dried and then I get it. In this respect, flowers are a lot like apricots. They’re better dried.
For Mother’s Day this year, Tom and Harry dispatched a beautiful arrangement of dried flowers. No water. No feeding. No discarding and so a perfect gift.
Unless, that is, the gift happens to be grapes, which are most commonly given to someone in hospital. I don’t know how this ever became a thing. That when someone is ill, what they really need are grapes. And fresh grapes too and not the dried variety.
No patient is likely to thank the visitor who rocks up with a bag of raisins. Raisins are less palatable, but also you run the risk of an unintentional metaphor and particularly if the patient happens to be old and wrinkly – just like a raisin – which is a grape that has seen much better days.
So choose your gifts carefully is this week’s lesson and if you are ever invited to Chez Holland for dinner – a bottle of wine is ample, but don’t hold your breath.
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