the soiree of 2014

Last weekend, the women of my mother’s family gathered at my aunt’s house for the annual soiree. There were twelve of us in all—cousins, sisters-in-law, aunts, nieces, sisters, mothers, etc—plus one little boy baby.

This year I was more excited for the soiree than ever before. Normally, leaving my nest makes me downright grumpy, but this time I was nearly giddy with anticipation. Perhaps it was because I was leaving behind a family that is more self-sufficient than it’s ever been. Maybe it’s because all I had to take was myself and a change of clothes. Maybe it’s because we were under orders not to dress-up which relieved my country bumpkin self. Maybe it’s because I knew there would be wine and coffee. Whatever the reason, I woke up at five on Saturday morning and couldn’t get back to sleep because I was so ready to go.

Earlier in the week I tried to explain my unusually abundant and ever mounting enthusiasm for the weekend’s plans to my friend.

“It’s just that this is different,” I said. “It’s not like a group of girlfriends getting together. This is the women in my family. I think it’s kind of unique and special.”

My friend laughed and said, “Well, that’s an understatement.”

Highlights included:
*Getting waited on hand and foot. Literally. I had my first manicure and pedicure. My aunt bought out the beauty bar for two hours and let us have at it.
*Talking—shrieking—about sex until 2:30 a.m. with the attic-n-air mattress girls.
*The cream pudding and lemon curd dessert served in real eggshells. Also, anise pound cake, a.k.a.toast.
*Sneaking the rest of the chocolate-covered pretzels after everyone else ate a moderate amount.
*Taking two-and-a-half hours to eat dinner in the dark on a deck overlooking the river. Also, the mushroom risotto and popcorn pots de creme.
*Getting locked in the parking garage.
*Watching my glowing sis-in-law with a perfect baby bump score almost every single piece of my aunt’s cast-off clothing. (I made off with a wicked leather coat.)
*Gathering in the sunroom first thing Sunday morning for coffee.
*Feasting on bread: jalapeño, spinach-cheese, cinnamon raisin, chocolate broiche.
*Watching my aunt open her varied hostess gifts: everything from a head scratcher to a giant pumpkin.

From other soirees: 20122011, 2010, 2009, 2008

This same time, years previous: a lesson I’d rather skip, the quotidian (10.1.12), because reading books is dangerous, pulled braised beef, and comparisons.


  • Karen

    What fun. I love our small acreage but I often don't feel much like a girl. The pedi and mani… what color pick for your first time? And how does one possibly eat only a moderate amount of chocolate-covered pretzels? 🙂 Love how you're always telling on yourself.

  • karen

    Now I'm jealous too. Both my parents were only children. Family was a rare commodity until my sisters and I started producing some ourselves. Now we have a bigger bunch.

    So how to score that Anise Loaf recipe …

  • Mavis

    C'mon… where are the rest of the pictures? More details. Oh and Dr. P… I think I should be invited next year. I can make party hats you know….

  • katie

    I tried feebly to recreate a mini version of this soiree at a family event this past summer with zero luck. I am quite jealous of this aspect of your family — in the best of ways. What's Popcorn Pots de Creme?

    • Jennifer Jo

      I don't think there's any shortcut to pulling this event off. My aunt prepares for weeks—maybe months—and I think she takes a full week off work to get ready.

      Popcorn Pots de Creme are just pots de creme with popcorn infused milk (I think). Salty, buttery, corny, and caramel-y—I loved them.

  • Deb

    Every time you write about this event, I try to figure out how I could get adopted into this family. This is super special and sounds absolutely perfect.

  • KTdid

    I've been eagerly awaiting news of The Soiree. If I were young and single, I'd be eyeing your elder son, counting the years until marrying into this event was a possibility!

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