I love a party. Who doesn’t love getting together with friends or family, all of whom are putting aside their daily angst or lifelong dislike of each other based on years of emotional baggage, to celebrate some important milestone? Birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, graduations; all great reasons to take precious time from the imperatives of one’s life and make an effort, sometimes one mile and sometimes several thousand, to join with loved ones and enjoy a little revelry. It is a great way to reconnect or renew bonds stretched thin by time and distance and distractions and disagreements.
Within just the past year, I have attended a wedding, a graduation and several milestone birthdays (a 90th, a 40th, a 60th, a 50th; that’s a lot of ths). In addition, there have been holiday celebrations that felt like days’ long parties- wake up and have all kinds of fun through the day and night, sleep, wake, repeat; I love it.
One of the things I ponder about at most of these celebrations is the issue of gifts. What does a 90-year-old need or even want? Is a gift card or cash for a high school graduate a cold gift or a thoughtful one? How much money does one give a bride and groom- I actually find this issue really annoying as the new generation seems to believe you must find out how much the wedding reception costs per head and at least cover that (times two if you are plus one; the new new math), instead of thinking about how much you love the couple or how much you can afford or how far you had to travel to get to the wedding….
For my aunt who just turned ninety, I made a donation to a favorite charity in her name and that makes her very happy. She enjoys receiving the little card in the mail, since she is one of the few people in the country who actually still uses snail mail, that says someone has made a contribution to help others because of her.
I am pretty sure the high school graduate would not be quite as thrilled with that same gift; and so I believe that cash is king for the young ‘uns’ gifts. There are those who think this is a present that shows no personal touch- I wholeheartedly disagree. Based on my own personal experience, what does a teenager need more than anything in the world? Money for fun or to buy that thing she/he always wanted or to save towards some far-reaching goal. How much more thoughtful can you be and does she/he really need another sweater? Well, maybe if she/he has been invited to an Ugly Sweater party, a fairly new tradition among the young where they spend the evening making fun of each other and of the relative, well-meaning as the relative might have been, who actually thought they needed a sweater with weird color schemes and three dimensional projectiles or Mickey Mouse likenesses knitted in. I’m not going to lie, I really want to be invited to one of these parties and have to spend time in thrift stores trying to find the ugliest sweater ever made. That sounds pretty fun to me.
Tonight we attend a 60th birthday for a rather new but close friend who hates birthdays and demanded that his wife invite people but not tell them it is his birthday (pssst- we all know), and who also has everything and needs nothing. Knowing his habits, hobbies and vices does not help guide me towards a gift choice and I am getting a little stressed out about it. I want a personal and thoughtful something-for-him-to-unwrap, and I am struggling. I guess I will go out in the world today and try to find something he can appreciate and hope for the best.
No matter how you say it: party, celebration, festivity, get-together, revelry, bash, event (thank you, Microsoft Word thesaurus), it all adds up to time for fun, for a break from life’s routines and demands, for hugs and smiles and late-night chats. It is a special part of life; hopefully the part I will remember when I am too old to attend any more of them. Fond memories and reflections of a life well-lived at an elderly age should certainly, in my opinion, include many parties. Who wants to sit in the rocking chair and mull over work, after all? Even if you enjoy your job, as I do mine, I value my social life just as much. It is almost as if I am making a conscious effort to collect fond memories- so be it…seems like a good thing to collect to me. I am a fond-memory hoarder! There are certainly messier hoarders; mine is all in my head. At least you won’t trip over them when you come visit me.