How to Organize a Mother's Day Party

Wear a lungi wrapped artfully around your waist, and an undershirt with frayed sleeves to make phone calls to all the men in the community. If this doesn’t take at least one whole day, you’ve left someone off the list.

Round up fathers, single men, and children over the age of 15. Even if they’re not husbands or fathers, they can still contribute; they have all had mothers. 

They will come to your house the Saturday evening prior to Mother’s Day to prepare and cook the food. Time your preparations so they coincide with the FA Cup final. Cooking is always improved by soccer.

Plan the menu in advance. It doesn’t much matter which curries you cook, but chilli must be used liberally. This is how you maintain your golden rule of cooking; the hotter the curries, the sweeter the dessert. You will organise the dishes efficiently but without much passion; it’s hard to get excited about vegetarian food. 

Your passion is reserved for dessert. You will make sharkara payasam. This sickly sweet umber ambrosia is your speciality, and you’re famed throughout the community for the way you combine the ghee, rice, jaggery, and coconut in perfect proportions. 

The author's father serving  sharkara payasam  at one of the many parties he loved

The author's father serving sharkara payasam at one of the many parties he loved

Your helpers will be an unruly bunch, heckling soccer teams into wins or losses, but you know they will follow your instructions. Revel in their rambunctiousness.

There will be time to remind them, once more, that all the mothers and mother-substitutes are not to lift a finger on their special day.

- Asha Rajan

Blue and Grey and Brown

The walk-in closet smells like lavender, shoe polish, cedar and dry cleaning chemicals. This is what a man’s closet should smell like. There are 130 shirts (dress and casual), 13 suits, 9 pairs of jeans, 7 pairs of slacks, 25 pairs of shoes, 10 belts, and 14 sweaters. This closet comes with many instructions: 

He keeps the sweaters in clear boxes with a bar of Yardley Lavender soap in each box, along with three cedar balls the size of Milk Duds. The clear boxes are dusted regularly.

Because it is the best kind of lavender soap.

He only hangs ties on the tie rack and never with a knot in it. Silk is only so forgiving, he explains as he smooths down the wrinkles from that day’s knot. 

No, I don’t need ties that are more fun. These ties are appropriate. 

John in an appropriate navy pinstripe, at his college graduation.

John in an appropriate navy pinstripe, at his college graduation.

His shirts from the dry cleaner are hung on the right-most part of the closet because new shirts are chosen from the left-most. They rustle like fall leaves in their dry cleaning bags as he squares the shoulders and lines them up perfectly. 

White and blue are the only acceptable colors for a man’s dress shirt. Pink is for salesmen. I am not a salesman.

Laundered shirts are hung by color grouping and sleeve length. 

Your mother shrunk this one.

Jeans in one section, slacks in another, hung legs on the left, perfectly aligned on trouser hangers.

Because that is the correct word for them.

All shoes, even gym shoes and sandals, have shoe trees in them; big, heavy, shoe trees that feel more like weapons than items of haberdashery. They are all cedar. 

If you treat them right, all shoes can last a decade or more. These are older than you, dear.

Suits stay in their waxed canvas bags until they are worn, and they go right back in at the end of the day. He tells me where and when he bought each suit, and the thought process involved in each. 

No. I prefer dark blue and dark grey. Brown is too midwestern. Black is for nightclub owners.

When I have to clean out his closet, and choose a suit for him to wear in the casket, the choice is easy, as if he was making it for me. 

- Beth Dugan is one of our favorite multiple-contributors to Dead Housekeeping and can be found at bethdugan.com