Growing guest list causes uneasy moments for family party planners
By June Mathews
It may not be polite to talk about a woman’s age, especially in so public a forum as a newspaper, but it’s no secret my mother turned 80 last week. My two brothers and I, along with our spouses, threw a party in her honor to which over 100 of her closest friends and family members came
I also posted 80th birthday wishes on Facebook, so if my all friends were paying attention, the word spread across several states and into a couple of foreign countries as well.
But if you ask me, a milestone birthday is something to celebrate, and Mama evidently feels the same way. I’ve never seen anybody having so much fun turning 80.
As late as the day of the big to-do, several people were under the impression that the party was a surprise. But we never even considered trying to pull anything over on Mama. We rarely managed it when we were growing up, so we figured with her being a few years older and that much wiser, we certainly couldn’t get away with it now.
Besides, with all the blabbermouths in our family, keeping much of anything under wraps is an exercise in futility. So we opted to not only tell Mama what we were doing, we included her in some of the planning. She created her own guest list, chose the flavors of her cake and ice cream, and provided us with some of the family pictures we displayed.
And as it turned out, letting her help was the best decision we could have made. She got to enjoy the anticipation and excitement of the coming celebration, and we got to share in her pre-party joy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more gleeful birthday girl.
She likely considered it a just reward for all the kids’ parties she threw over the years and was thus determined to make the most of it. I guess I can’t blame her for that.
Even though Mama initially objected to us throwing her a party, she warmed up to the idea when we gave her carte blanche as to the number of people she could invite. She took the open-ended limit as a challenge to ensure that every relative, as well as a sizable number of friends and neighbors, made the guest list. I frankly got worried a time or two that we’d all be packed, sardine style, into the room reserved at the church and worse yet, run out of food.
“Y’all come!” she’d urge anyone she ran into who hadn’t already been invited, and each time, I’d mentally recalculate the amount of cake and ice cream we needed to order.
The excitement grew when we learned my uncle and cousin were planning to drive up from Tampa. But spirits dampened a bit, literally and figuratively, as Hurricane Isaac made his way toward the Gulf of Mexico, and my cousin’s job with the county required him to stay home. The disappointment was eased by promises of a visit in the fall, so it looks like we’ll have another excuse for celebrating soon.
All in all, the party was a success, and even though I’m glad it’s over, I’m glad we threw it. Mama enjoyed herself, and so did we.
But to anyone who didn’t get an invitation and might be feeling slighted: Please don’t. It doesn’t mean Mama deemed you unworthy of sharing her day. On the contrary, she considers everybody she’s ever met a potential party guest. She just ran out of time.
Believe me, had we started planning this party a few weeks earlier, you would have been on the ever-lengthening guest list, along with a whole lot of other people.
And my brothers and I would have been taking out a loan to buy more cake and ice cream.
Email June Mathews at firstname.lastname@example.org.