Friday, August 5, 2016

Every Party Needs A Theme

A month before the family gathering, the emails started flying through cyberspace. There was a party to be planned, and the birthday girl was my sister.

All her life, she's had an affinity for big cats: cheetahs, lions, jaguars. Even when our parents let us choose one toy from Disneyland, she chose Charlie and Angela, a pair of stuffed animal cheetahs---yes, she managed to squeeze two toys out of the deal. Wow-- almost 50 years later, I am still carrying the remains of this sibling detail.

Not only was she drawn to African animals, she was drawn to African prints for her clothing . When only a first grader, my sister designed a winter coat that my mother sewed for her. I still remember the leopard skin- soft and furry; the coat's lining was bright and shiny satin. I waited, waited patiently, like an animal of prey for my sister to outgrow that coat and for that coat to become mine.

As an adult, she still loves animal print clothing and shoes, so this party had a dress code. Everyone must come in animal print!

As my sister's daughter planned the party, she asked everyone to write a favorite thing about my sister or Aunt Loraine, and to include a birthday wish. As the responses accumulated, my niece realized she needed to make a permanent collection of the beautiful memories and words. As surprised as Loraine was by the animal cutouts, the guests wearing animal prints, and dinner extraordinaire, there was more to come. 

When my niece presented the book of treasured memories, and read some of her favorite passages that family members had written, my sister began to cry, and she continued crying through all the kind words. 

As the party came to a close, we were all filled with love and gratitude for a beautiful evening honoring a wonderful person. As I contemplated the party, I saw that the theme was so much more than "animal prints." The theme was love.

**Gratitude to Jillian who made a visit to a goodwill store and bought up all the animal prints: seven different women's shirts. Hoorah to the men in our family who wore those tight women's leopard print shirts.

***There's a phone message from Hannah at Five Star Gulf Rentals to give her a call. She says we left some of our possessions and she would like to return them to us. Hmmmm...I thought we were thorough in our packing and departure. I call back. 

"Mrs. Martinez, we found several women's leopard print shirts in the condos and I'd like to send them to you."

I explain the shirts were for a themed party and if she didn't mind, could she please just drop them off at goodwill?

She has a good laugh. 

Our conversation continues about our stay in the rental.

Right before we hang up, she starts laughing and says, "Thanks for calling us back and letting me know about the shirts...we can stop assuming you were all from New Jersey."