Tuesday, January 10, 2012
The Wisdom Tree
We have one more poorly placed natal celebration in the family. John's birthday is right after New Year's, a time when the adults of the family have not yet fully forgotten the excesses of Christmas. But at least it comes in another month, so if one shops at the last minute, one can have fresh income to meet the occasion.
This year was a little trickier because, it being John's 18th birthday and wanting to do something special, I decided to have a surprise party for him. Of course, I came to this decision very late, as I couldn't even THINK about birthdays until after Christmas. This left very little time to pull a party out of my hat, especially since the intervening week also held Tiggy's party.
In order to surprise him, I held his party December 31st. I did as much of the preparations as I could ahead of time, because I wouldn't have much time Saturday night to prepare. As it turned out, my preparedness turned out to be sadly, sadly lacking. But for the grace of God and the spontaneous help of most of my guests, we would NOT have been ready at zero hour. Thank you again, each one of you!
Our menu was decidedly Mexican influenced. We had fajitas, chips and salsa, rice, and taco salad. There were rivers of punch (literally--I think someone greased the cups!) and sparkling grape juice in plastic champagne glasses for our toast. Desert was a German chocolate cake and ice cream. John asked me if I picked it because it was his favorite. Honesty compelled me to confess that I chose it because it was fast. But I'm glad it was his favorite, and that has to count for something!
No 18th birthday party would possibly be complete without embarrassing photos, and of course, John had his fair share. My personal favorite is a photo of him, just barely potty trained, doing his...er....business while reading the Sunday comics. It's a great example of photo journalism, but out of respect for his birthday request, I'll not post it. But I'll tell you about it! That wasn't covered by his request....
I can also tell you, strictly confidentially of course, that if you click on the picture to make it large, you might be able to enjoy some of the photos. (Psssst! It's in the lower left-hand corner)
Since John is learning--too late as most of us do--of the wisdom of saving for a rainy day, the games were all themed to fill a jar with money for him. The kids had a ping pong ball and bean bag toss that earned him coins, and throughout the evening I asked random questions such as, "The first person to tell me the name of the governor of Montana can put a dollar in the jar." But the highlight of the evening was the game show styled "How Well Do You Know John?"
Not very well, as it turns out in some cases! If contestants got the answer right, John would get one prize, such as a towel set, and if they guessed wrong, he'd get a smaller gift, such as a wash cloth. Personally, I think John was helping them cheat a little, but he got a storage tub full of items for his new, independent lifestyle.
My favorite part of the evening was the Wisdom Tree. More than any amount of money or gift of "stuff", your average 18 year old needs wisdom. In this respect, John has been known to leave average behind and go on to gifted! So rather than have a money tree, which would teach him nothing but that his family members are soft touches, I had a tree on which each guest was encouraged to hang his or her best advice. There were many pearls of wisdom, but a few grains of sand in the mix, such as Tiggy's offering, "Eat like a quilt." Though that is the one that has stuck with me anyway, so at least it had staying power going for it.
In spite of a surprising amount of whining for an 18 year old, it was some time into the evening before we got to the presents. John enjoyed the birthday cards that kind friends had sent him, but his favorite of all his gifts was the pair of insulated overalls. He's been needing it desperately in his work, so much so, that in his own words, "I was about to break down and buy it with my own money!" Reality will strike this one hard.....
The evening wound to a close, for some of us, that is. Noni stayed for a bit to help with the clean up, and it was then that the party began to go down hill. See, a couple days before, I'd read an article on how young ladies of today were leaving behind the time honored "Cheese!" as a technique to get good pictures. It just won't work to produce that sexy pout everyone wants. The new method for flattering, modern photos is to say....wait for it...
That's right, gaze into the camera. Don't forget the smolder. Ok, good. Now slowly mouth the word "prunes". No, more enunciation there. Proooooooooooooones. Quit laughing. That ruins the effect.
Each of us tried it, and I have to say that I think this article was a little bit off. All saying "prunes" did was make it look like we were in dire need of them, if you get my drift.
Noni came the closest, but then she had to ruin it by trying to improve upon things. She decided to see what other fruit would do for her. Just a little tip here, but the word "banana" said slowly and seductively will never do much for your looks. It will do much to amuse your companions, however!
Eventually, we had to give up our lives of riotous amusement and get back to the work of cleaning up. Digging ourselves out from the party dregs didn't take forever, in spite of my initial predictions, but did last long enough that I was still awake to ring in the New Year. Of course, it also helped that Caleb and I are an hour ahead of the rest of the family so we got to greet 2012 while everyone else had an hour more to pry their eyelids open! It was wonderful to finish out the old year surrounded by friends and family, building more happy memories to be remembered and enjoyed for years to come. I truly felt blessed.
Happy birthday, Sweetie!