In my youth, my Dad thought he would have a “two fer” by throwing my Mom a surprise party while simultaneously entertaining some of his clients. Oh it was a BIG surprise alright. After the party, my Mom held up a finger (indicating that an undeniable fact was heading his way) with a crisply pronounced, “ONE…I didn’t know anyone at the party” followed by a “TWO…not only was English a challenge for ‘MY’ guests but no one spoke the same language!” I think the party ranked right up there with the time he bought her snow tires for his Mustang — as a gift.
The “Tower of Babble Birthday” was topped by the time I tried surprising my highly focused father on his big day. He has a January birthday so I used the old “My battery died and I’m waiting inside a restaurant” ploy to get him to his party. He walked in as guests yelled out a boisterous “SURPRISE!” Unwavering, he headed (with jumper cables and lecture about car maintenance) in my direction. It took two more attempts to get him to notice that it was not just a coincidence that Uncle Bob was standing near him in a sparkly party hat, giving the elastic band that held it in place a run for its money.
Upon becoming a mother I vowed that things would go more smoothly. A brief side note: Make certain that if you buy a cake with a real Barbie inside (the cake being her skirt) that the candles are safely placed away from Barbie’s hair and appendages. It is tough to calm down a group of girls if Barbie goes up in flames. Also, if your child receives a “Jiggly, Bouncy Ball” keep it away from your child until after the party. The &^% thing bounced and jiggled out of my child’s hands and made its way down our dinner table like Godzilla. It crashed down candles, cake and my beautiful centerpiece on a path straight toward my horrified mother-in-law.
But these few minor glitches did not deter my enthusiasm. Our family parties shall always be remembered. I am blessed with kids with active (sometimes turbo-charged) imaginations. I let them come up with a theme for the family gatherings to celebrate their big day. We have had a “Mexican Fiesta,” “Dog Days,” ”African Safari” and “Big Ten Kickoff,” (where everyone wore their favorite team’s attire. The adults got into the spirit just as much as the kids. I certainly gave my children lasting memories. The image of their 70-year-old grandmother in a long t-shirt that made it look like she was wearing a bikini (for the “Under the Sea” party) is hard to forget. Their uncle wearing a toga that was a tad too short for the “La Dolce Vita Roma” party nearly threw them into therapy. A little friendly motherly advice: If you have a “PJ Party” be clear on what you consider lounge wear.
We are currently in the stage of “normalcy” when it comes to our annual celebrations of birth. I never thought I would say this, but I miss the days of goodie bags, sleepovers and finding sprinkles all over the house. However, I break out in a massive grin with the knowledge that I won’t be entering a Chuck E. Cheese anytime in the near future. They say that people who have the most birthdays live the longest. For that matter, it has also been said that inside every old person is a young person wondering what the heck happened. Regardless, I plan on continuing the celebration of life with reckless abandon, and the occasional party hat.