Sunday, March 8, 2009
The Surprise Party
Well, I turned 40 on Thursday. People keep asking me how it feels and I tell them, "40 feels a lot like 39, only slower".
My husband and mother threw a surprise party for me on Thursday evening and it was lovely, but not a surprise. Mom wanted the whole thing to be a surprise, but my husband decided that they couldn't really surprise me with the party (I always find out), so he would surprise me with the guest list. I wasn't allowed to ask who was invited or who was coming or "Did you invite...?" I just had to take what rolled out. And what rolled out was lovely Old friends, new friends, long-lost friends, friends I see everyday...
As I sat looking at the crowd of assembled people trying to delicately eat some hot wings and barbecue meatballs, I was reminded of some past surprise parties. This was not the first time Mom had tried to surprise me.
When I turned 16, she threw a surprise party for me and only three people came. I wasn't particularly sad, but I knew that Mom was. I had a lot of fun making custom pizzas with my three friends, one of whom had moved to another school earlier in the year. Later, I found out that she had invited a ton of people and that some of them had even said they would come, but didn't show up. Now, of course, I know that life happens and the best-laid plans sometimes go awry. I can remember, though, at 16, feeling a little sorry for myself that more of my friends didn't come.
When I turned 21, my husband helped my mother with the party. This is truly one of my favorite stories. My husband and his sister, Julie, were supposed to keep me out of the house while it was being cleaned up (with 3 little brothers and sisters still at home this was no small task). I guess Mom announced to everyone, after we left, what they would be doing today, whereupon my Dad went to the basement and began to sort old computers. As if anyone was going to be in the basement! Oh well...
Anyway, because Julie and Michael couldn't keep me interested in shopping for long enough, I came home early. Mom was in a state and couldn't figure out how to get me upstairs so that people could arrive. And even if she got me upstairs, she couldn't get people in the house without me knowing. Finally, when the first guest arrived (my mother-in-law-to-be) Mom lost her cool and told me about the surprise. I had had no idea. I was so shocked and thrilled. Michael sent me upstairs to get changed into something a little more party-like and as I was curling my hair, my friends, Missy and Kristen came running up the stairs shouting "Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!" I remember laughing and smiling so much that evening.
But, nothing beats the 40th. They had to get a room at a local parish in order to get all the people in. I don't know how many people came, but it was a lot. And, as my mother-in-law always says, all the right people came. They always do. Everyone had a good time. Everyone had plenty to eat (and it was so good, Mom)! And, I am humbled, truly humbled, by all of these people's good wishes and kindnesses and those of the people who called me to let me know that they could not attend but were thinking of me.
As I was sitting there, surveying all the people in the room through misty eyes, one of my close friends leaned over my shoulder and said to me, "Now, when you feel like no one cares, just look around this room in your memory and remember how many lives you have touched and how many people care."
I can't believe I have so many friends. I wonder, sometimes, what they see. But, I am grateful, all the same.
Photo: St. Pixel's Blog - Sharona