Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Savor The Now

Every January, I launch the planning for my daughter's birthday party. Now mind you, when I organized her very first friend party event, I had no idea that I would be doing it every single year going forward. I didn't have parties every year growing up -- still don't. Nor did my son. But my daughter looks forward to her birthday party event more than anything else all year long. No destination party for her though. She wants me to plan them and host them in our home.

So I do.

For her 4th birthday, we gathered with a Fairy Circle and fairy dust ... For her 5th, we held the Ballet event where the girls learned a special dance ... The 6th was a Princess Party where each girl dressed in her favorite princess finery, played Princess Twister and was crowned with her own exclusive Princess Name ... The 7th was a Little Girl Night Out Pajama Party where handprints were painted on pillowcases while the 8th was a Lalaloopsy Doll event which of course included a tea table and a gift for each doll that attended.

So every January, my daughter and I come up with a new theme based on her current likes and interests. We then brainstorm crafts and games, projects and cupcake designs, invitation ideas and gifts for all the attendees. I make lists ... I shop and cut and decorate ... I browse Etsy and JoAnns and Michaels. And at the end of each party, I vow that NEXT TIME we will go somewhere or NEXT YEAR we won't hold a party ... 

But then comes January once again ... The festive Christmas season is behind me and there is less to look forward to. And despite last year's commentary and vows to discontinue this event, I've discovered that not only do I enjoy this party ... I kinda need this party. It gives me something to get excited about on days when it's cold, grey, snowy, and dark way too early. It's really such a simple thing and it makes others so happy.

I love the looks on the girls faces as they discover what my daughter and I have in store for them during those special hours. I love the joy in my daughter's eyes as we work together to create gifts for her friends and select the crafts and treats. 

I don't spend a lot. But I give a lot. And in the simplicity of the sparkle in each girls' eyes -- and the excitement of my soon-to-be 9 year old -- brings me a gift with a value that cannot be quantified. It reminds me how important "the now" is. It reminds me not to waste a second of it.

It's not about the gifts (Oh, those are nice and my daughter enjoys them, don't get me wrong.) But it's actually more about spending a unique time with the friends most dear to her. It's about telling them how special they are because only a limited number are invited. Her birthday is about savoring the now and enjoying the moments as they arise. Simple pleasures. The ones overlooked so quickly in our busy, results-driven lives. Little girls seem to know how important stuff like that truly is.

As grown ups, we've grown accustomed to the fact that life has its disappointments. You put yourself out there every day. You win sometimes and you ... don't win other times. Your faith gets shaken in those moments where life doesn't go the way you hoped. Perhaps you question your next steps and flounder a bit.  Perhaps you struggle with a not-so-great job or health issues. Moments are filled with dark and light ... as grown ups, we see that all to clearly. We choose how to respond. We bounce ... we fall ... we laugh ... we cry. Life is far from uncomplicated.

But in the eyes of a child, life is simple. There is still magic. There is still a Tooth Fairy who is also a Pen Pal and Santa Clause who responds so lovingly to wishes of the heart.  There is a doorway to Oz, if only they can find it, and a path into Wonderland through a looking glass or rabbit hole. 

So every January as I plan this party, my daughter's joy and imagination add glitter and sparkles to a heart chipped or bruised by my day-to-day "stuff" and challenges along the way. I discover an extra spring in my step and a rush of adrenalin as I contemplate where I'm going to move everything when six little girls take over my sun-room with their sleeping bags. I grin as I cut construction paper to craft snowflakes and whip up the blue frosting for cupcakes.

This year, the theme is a Frozen Slumber-bration. And my daughter and I have some very creative surprises for our .... er, um .... HER guests. And though it is always a lot of work, it gives a lot of joy to her.... to her guests .... and to me.

Planning her party I savor every single moment. I celebrate the Now. She'll be 9 this year. These times are fleeting and precious. So no matter what I say at 10pm this Friday night, I'm pretty sure I'll be planning a 10th birthday event next year. And smiling all the way.

                                                                                                                             -- Jenni