Last weekend the weather here was gloomy and rainy so Charis and Andrew, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law, came over for a Godfather movie marathon.
I had made a green chili enchilada sauce and boiled and shredded a chicken the day before since I had planned on making enchiladas, however in light of the new plan of watching The Godfather, Mexican food would have to wait. So instead I made my grandmothers lasagna, whipped up a caesar salad dressing and bought a few bottles of Chianti. Charis and Andrew were to bring gelato for dessert since my search for spumoni ice cream (one of the treats I remember getting at the Italian restaurant off the 101 freeway in California when I visited “Pop”– aka– my late, great Italian grandfather) left me empty handed.
Andrew and I texted each other videos as banter before they arrived because when we commit to something we go ALL IN, even if it means we are dorks. We don’t care. See:
Jeremy and I had done a Godfather/Goodfella’s marathon once before, over thirteen years ago, when Jeremy had a knee scope and was laid up on the couch. Our friends came over and we made a day of it. I think we decided on The Godfather back then because we’d never seen all three movies. We chose it this time because Andrew and Charis had never seen them, and also we couldn’t remember ANYTHING from our original viewing. And I mean that. Hand to God, as we started watching as Marlon Brando (Don Coreleone) laid in a hospital room an hour into the movie, someone said “So Al Paccino is going to be Godfather, then?” and I said “yes” and then Jeremy yelled “THAT’S Al Paccino?!” and I looked at him like he must be kidding. Surely.
But he wasn’t.
“Yes, that’s Al Paccino, you crazy. You didn’t know that this whole time? You don’t know that Al Paccino is the Godfather?!”
“He’s so young, it doesn’t look like him! WELL…If Al Paccino becomes Godfather, I’ll watch all of these movies FOR SURE. I love Al Paccino.”
I’m not sure what he meant by this because we were already, in fact, watching all the movies, so…
(Although we only got through two of the movies and had to save part 3 for another day because those movies are LOOOONG. Dang, yo.)
Then, about five minutes later when Al Paccino marries an Italian woman instead of the girlfriend he had at the beginning of the movie I shouted “wait—he’s marrying HER? What happened to Diane Keaton?” and then everybody turned to me shocked and said “THAT was Diane Keaton?!”
You guys, we were such Godfather amateurs.
The morning of the event I woke up and wrote my grocery list. I needed quite a few ingredients to make the food, and I would have to go to two different grocery stores plus the liquor store for wine, and I just did not feel like doing any of it. It was Saturday. I didn’t want to leave the family. I didn’t want to spend an hour in the kitchen making food. What I really wanted to do was absolutely nothing. But I’m used to this feeling. I recognize it. It’s like every time I have to go to a fundraiser or a “girls night” is planned and 4:45pm rolls around signaling that I must get ready and everything in me is says, RESIST! Don’t go. It’ll be so much easier and relaxing to just stay home.
I always want easy.
The problem is nothing worthwhile is born out of ease.
If you want juicy memories like this with friends and family, heavily laden with smells of homemade sausage and cheese baking in the oven while sipping on an appropriate beverage and watching just the right thing on just the right day, it doesn’t just happen. Not normally.
4th of July picnics with fried chicken and potato salad and too much sun and watermelon don’t just spontaneously happen. Someone plans it and then does all the things it requires. The payoff is substantial as far as leading meaningful lives in community goes.
In the moment, I always think I want ease, but really, underneath that, I want to LIVE life, which is a verb, which means it requires action on my part, regardless of whether I feel like doing anything or not.
Experience has shown me it’s always worth it. Besides, there are plenty of normal days where I do choose ease. And it’s awesome and relaxing, albeit not memorable.
And so I plowed through. I went to all the busy stores and then came home and stirred sauce and ricotta with egg. I browned sausage and onions and cut mozzarella and boiled noodles and built layer on layers of lasagna. And through the process of doing all of that something in me felt lively and well, alive. I felt lucky enough to prepare for something fun and worthwhile instead of spending it like any other Saturday, which would have required much less of me but given me much less as well.
During our movie I looked up at the framed words on my shelf by the TV.
Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
— Howard Thurman
Being an active and willing participant in cultivating and creating valueable memories like these is what makes me come alive. And so this is what I need to be doing more of with my time. Anytime I do, I look around and think “this right here? This is the good stuff.” I feel all is right in the world.
Gathering and celebrating simple everyday joy with the people I love and do life with is…
it’s an offer I can’t refuse.