Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Best Of Times

The best of times are when I’m alone with you.
Some rain some shine, we’ll make this a world for two.
Our memories of yesterday will last a lifetime.
We’ll take the best, forget the rest
And someday we’ll find …. These are the best of times.
                             - Styx/Paradise Theatre

Today is my daughter's 10th birthday. And once again, a few days prior to this illustrious day, I hosted her little girl birthday party. I began this tradition with her 4th Birthday and have continued hosting the party in my home and coordinating all the aspects of these special events -- baking, crafting, planning, decorating, creating ideas and favors and so on. 

This year's theme followed the storybook lives of the 2nd generation of fairy tale characters. Ever After High introduces us to Snow White's daughter as well as the Wicked Queen's daughter and their many fairy tale friends. There are dolls, of course, dressed in clothing, tights and shoes only a doll could wear -- though I seriously want the SHOES! Anyway, Ever After High is relatively new so there's no "party stuff."  Of course NOW since I've paved the way, by next year I'm sure there will be tons of supplies. 

My daughter and I are always trendsetters when it comes to birthday themes.

I vow at the conclusion of every party every year that "this is the last one I host." And, I always purchase a post-event bottle of wine to celebrate my achievement after hosting and remaining sane at the conclusion of a successful event. The ability to manage an afternoon (or overnight) with high-pitched, high-energy, very busy little girls is worthy of honor. But, I know it's an empty threat. I enjoy it too much (yeah, I'm sick that way I guess.) The challenge thrills me. It gives me a creative rush to come up with a theme and all the necessary and related elements every January. Heck, I think it gets me through the post-holiday/January blahs. And this year, it was even more fun.

This year, my daughter and I truly created this event together. We selected the invitation together. We assigned character roles to each friend, casting carefully who would be who. We shopped for craft supplies and favors together. We baked together. We made cookie dough from scratch, cut out sugar cookies and frosted them. We prepared the cake batter and frosting. We experimented and created apple-looking cake pops, complete with a sparkly red candy coating. We decorated the table and counter and arranged the favor bags. And it was genuine fun.

The Best of Times -- to quote one of my favorite teenage songs -- are those kind of moments. Sure, I could hire someone or go out somewhere and let someone else do the work. I could order a cake. I could hire a cleaning company. But I gain true pleasure from creating this little party for my daughter and her friends. I honestly enjoy baking and doing all the prep with my daughter. These special moments mean a lot. And I have a feeling she will remember these moments long after she's forgotten what I bought her.

The Best of Times are different for everyone. You may not personally enjoy baking or planning a little girl birthday gig. Perhaps your Best of Times is a game afternoon with family or friends, or assembling legos, or playing tennis, or an afternoon at the beach. Perhaps it's being on stage or performing with a special friend or family member -- perhaps its sitting in the audience and watching that someone special and celebrating together. It doesn't matter what the "thing" you do is. What's important is time spent with people you truly care for ... the individuals that you truly enjoy being with.

Who are those people for you? Do they know? Do you tell them? Do you reach out with a phone call or write a text or a letter or an email? Do you send them a thank you note when they select a special gift or touch you in some unique way? Do you call to make plans for lunch or coffee or a drink to simply spend time together?  

A friend once remarked ... People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care ... (Not sure where that came from, though sources say Theodore Roosevelt.)

So, do they know? How do you tell them? How do you choose to show them? Physical expressions ... written words ... spoken kindness ... special plans... Oh, it really doesn't have to be something major to mean something big.

People come in and out of our lives. But their presence leaves an impression -- footprints on our hearts if you will. The Best of Times are spent with such people. Fleeting moments can leave lasting marks on our souls. Our memories of yesterday will last a lifetime ...

In discovering your Best of Times, you define the people most precious to you and the aspects of life you most treasure. They may be birthday events or simple moments reading a story to your kid. They may be family bike rides or vacations to exciting places. They may be quiet conversations sitting at a bar or walks and hot chocolate by the moonlight. They may be dancing classes or trips to the American Girl store. They may be evenings spent companionably on a couch reading or outings to the movies. They may be a casual dinner at a favorite place or cocktails in the backyard.  

There's no limits or rules that define the Best of Times. Just find a way to Honor them for what they offer ... and the people for what they bring to you ... and what you give to them. 

You may never choose to host a little girl birthday event. But watching those girls as I have for the past 7 parties I've planned has been a blessing and joy. Sharing an afternoon with them crafting and giggling and celebrating is one of the Best of Times for me. And getting it ready, laughing and licking batter from spoons with my daughter, well, that's pretty much The Bestest! 

And I tell her so every day...
                                                                                                                    -- Jenni