Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Perfectly Imperfect Special Occasion Using What You Have

If you read this post, you know that our girl recently turned 13. For many months I'd hoped to do something extra special to celebrate this milestone birthday. But I also knew that it was most important for the celebration be something she really wanted. 

Meaningful for me and meaningful for her don't always translate into the same celebration language.

We brainstormed and planned. She considered a slumber party but didn't want to leave anyone out. By the time the invite list reached 16 girls, she and I both realized we simply couldn't sleep that many in our house. Plan B was an overnight outing, just the two of us. But this girl is savvy; she knew that an overnight trip might take away from the money we'd put toward her gift. 

The only thing she could decide on was her favorite meal. But should we eat it at home or at a restaurant? The poor child {who suffers from decision-making anxiety just like her mother} couldn't decide.

She finally gave up and left all the plans to us. 

I worried that it wouldn't be "enough." My idealistic expectations convinced me that it wouldn't be the special, commemorative time I'd envisioned for her or that she'd envisioned for herself.

In the end, it was lovely and simple and included only us, her family.

Truth be told, I think it was a success because she got the gift she wanted but didn't think she'd get. She's all about the swag. {Yet another thing she inherited from me.}

But I also think she loved it because it was all about her simple favorite things and this made her feel special. A dorky poem and small surprise gift each day of the week leading up to her birthday, her favorite meal, a pretty table with real stemware, and chocolate torte for dessert.

This chocolate torte makes everything perfect.

The occasion reminded me that we can pull off a sweet and personal affair using what we have and not going to great expense or stress.

I'll let you in on our birthday lineup:

Fettucini Alfredo {recipe from America's Test Kitchen and supplied by my brother}

Grilled chicken to go with the pasta 

A simple iceberg lettuce salad with Olive Garden dressing {her fave}

The Bread

Milleniyum Chocolate Torte

Pretty dishes and glasses

Sweet tea {because this girl is certifiably southern}

Wildflowers {weeds} picked by our youngest as the floral centerpiece

Homemade cards by her brothers that are so priceless, we'll be dying over them for years to come. The youngest drew a misshapen crayon heart and then apologized in the card that the heart looked like a bottom. {I suspicion that for kindergarten boys, many things tend to resemble bottoms.}

My iPhone camera. Because my real camera's battery died at the exact moment I snapped the first picture. I mean, of course. How appropriate to have less-than-perfect photos for our perfectly imperfect occasion. I had to laugh.


In an age of "pinworthy" parties and perfectly themed events and magazine-inspired everything, it's refreshing to remember that hospitality and celebration isn't about perfection; it's about people. It's about making them feel loved and unique and worth fussing over. It's about making their joys your joys. It's about using what you have--blossoming weeds, time to go to extra lengths in the kitchen, your weathered and wobbly kitchen table, and a tried-and-true torte recipe. 

Eighteen years into marriage and thirteen years into motherhood, I'm finally getting a clue about the real art of celebration.

She told me it's the best birthday she's ever had. 


In other news, Kindel and I are hard at work on the new blog details. I'm so excited! If you haven't read my last post, it tells you a little bit about what's coming next. It's also the post where I plead for a bit of help from you readers. Check it out.

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  1. That precious now-thirteen-year-old was simply effusive in telling me all about her birthday celebration. You need to know that, in her eyes, everything was truly perfect. The best fettucini, the best chocolate cake, the best surprise gift!!! She loved it all . . . just like you hoped!

    As for the comment about kindergarten and bottoms . . . yep, that's about right. But it does change as they get older. In second grade, it will be all about gross bodily functions!!!


  2. This is so refreshing! We have also found that the simplest of celebrations turns out to be the most meaningful and the "best." I must try that Chocolate Torte - oh my! My mouth watered as I perused the recipe. Yum! Thank you for sharing about your imperfectly perfect celebration.

  3. I like who you are as a mother, friend. Happy birthday to that lovely (and patient with eight-year-olds who ask a lot of questions) girl!

  4. Thank You for sharing your article, This is an interesting & informative blog. It is very useful for the promoter like me.


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