There are a million things to do and be when you are a parent. The list is so long and varied and overwhelming and joyful and exhausting that to write about all of them in one post would be, well, long and varied and overwhelming and joyful and exhausting. However, there is one particular thing that my wife has taken a special interest in over the years since we first met and that one thing is CELEBRATING.
She has always enjoyed celebrating just about anything, anytime, which became especially useful when we started welcoming children into our lives. I remember when our first daughter began Kindergarten and, even though we always drove her to school, my wife constructed an amazing schoolbus-shaped cake complete with passengers and the name of the school scrawled in icing across its side. I’ll never forget that night around the table as we celebrated Emily’s first day of school. Looking back on it nearly 15 years later, I realize now that it was also a way that my wife was teaching us to celebrate our life together as a family.
We have celebrated so many times since then, especially these smaller moments, that our younger daughters now happily reap the rewards of my wife’s experience in this area.
Just last night we celebrated our youngest’s 9th birthday with her school friends here at the house. It was what she and my wife dubbed an “Almost-Sleepover Party” in which six of her girlfriends from school came to the house for just a couple of hours and played games and illustrated their own pillowcases and painted their nails and even had me read them a Baby Frederico bedtime story. The event allowed us to get to know everyone a little better and meet parents and see the friendships among our kids bloom and grow.
Because we only had two hours, my wife had the girls enjoying themselves and smiling and laughing within seconds of entering the house. Near the end of the evening, a little girl even asked us, “Can this party last longer please?”
A few days from now, we will be celebrating again with our middle daughter as she turns 14 and has invited a handful of her girlfriends from school over for a 1950’s-style sock hop. She is a Motown music fanatic and loves old records and Chubby Checker dances and Jackie Wilson lyrics. Her grandfather Mike customized a 50’s sock hop music CD for each attendee. There will be hula-hoops and soda pop cupcakes, rootbeer floats, and retro-candy like Mike and Ike’s, Sixlets, Pop-Rocks, Jujubees, Cherry Bombs, and Chiclets. My wife even secured a half dozen poodle skirts and may beat them all in the bubble-gum blowing contest! The party will culminate in a 1950’s dance moves contest straight out of an Elvis Presley movie – from The Hand Jive and The Twist to The Mashed Potato and The Swim.
These celebrations are among my wife’s favorite ways of helping the girls tell their stories to their friends and to themselves, of hearing what their loves and hobbies and interests are in that particular year, and then creating with them and for them a celebration as personalized as their very names.
I love this place, living among people who love to celebrate life. The world is so full of difficulties and gloominess and trouble that these brightly shining events really help us and replenish us along the journey together. I’m thankful I married someone who knows how to celebrate and is willing to help us tell our stories in this way.
So in the immortal words of Loggins and Messina, “Celebrate me…home.”