I think it was Holy Hub, who is ever the pragmatic and dare I add a reluctant if late blooming partyer ~ and his third muttering that we would have been better off to book a pool party, order a pizza there and call it a day rather than continue on with this spooktacular howler set for Holy Daughter's 9th birthday party tonight ~ that clued me in.
I would like to be one of those Moms that sets out cake and ice cream, has a civilized gift opening, and succumbs to the wild excess of a pin the tail on the donkey game for good measure, but I'm beginning to realize, that probably ain't gonna happen on my watch.
And I'm OK with that. Not everyone in this house is, but I will go to my grave defending that excess and Halloween actually share the same etymological root derivative.
Speaking of graves and roots and nonesuch, the party today is a graveyard one. Holy Daughter wanted to go a bit goth and creepy this year. So we put out strict orders that no one was to come dressed as a cute puppy, pretty princess or kitschy cartoon character. We switched the dining and family room furniture around - thankfully there wasn't much in the family room to begin with, and have set this room, which shares space with the kitchen, up as a haunted dining room with some Frankenstein costume-clad tall candlestick holders looking on. And I'm happy to report that once lights get turned off and candles lit, the room will be quite creepy and most kooky, mysterious and spooky, maybe even altogether ooky, just like the Schmidty family.
My little Vampiress wants to watch one of the scarier episodes of Goosebumps with her 8 friends in the dark downstairs and then after dinner, we're going to send the bravest of ghouls out to the backyard, where we'll have a Boneyard Cemetery set up, to collect bones for prizes.
All of which has entailed hours of planning and set-up for a 3-hour tour. A 3-hour tour.
I know. I totally get it. But I think it's about taking a stance upon familiar soil. Do I want to stand for lame parties and even lamer treat bags? Never in good conscience could I do so and be able to look myself in the hair eyeball of the morning mirror again. Nor could I stand way over there, at that blowout party extraganza place, which even now in my mind's eye, resembles more of a tailgate bash than the annual celebration of a child's birth. My kids have been to parties like that. Where every child in the Western Hemisphere was invited and where stacks of presents were presented and left unopened.
We've never permitted more than 8 or 9 friends and even that seems excessive, especially given the fact that both kids only have one or two friends they truly count as their closest companions.
So yeah, I kinda get my place in the mix - I like to think I stand on that middle ground soil. But after another equally anal PTA Mom and I planned Holy Daughter's year-end class carnival picnic last year and people were oohing and ahhing over all the little details that this other Mom and I thought nothing of (truth be told, we thought a lot of it was kinda lame given our limited time and budget), I realized that maybe I am a breed apart when it comes to event details. Color coordinating and decor and little chutzkahs have always mattered to me. Even back in the days when we were planning our first annual Christmas open house I can recall getting hung up on matching napkins to plates. It's a genetic flaw, I'm sure - I now know I come by it honestly - my birth family are party throwers extraordinaire. And I know that some of it has come from being so often thrust into the role of event planner in my career this past decade.
But I also get that life is long on fear, droll duty and disaster - especially of late - and rather short on fun. I'm channelling a little of that medieval carpe diem spirit which I know rhymes with evil, but it doesn't take a degree from a Freudian college to figure out that fun, feast, and frivolity are perfectly natural human responses to doom, gloom, and tomb.
Methinks the lady doth protest too much and perhaps that's true. But it's my soapbox so I get to hog the mic and defend, on behalf of anal home birthday party planners everywhere, our right to party plan.
A month ago, as all 5 of you faithful readers out there will recall, I went off on what I like to think of as a bit of a midlife coming of age rite. It felt, looked and acted a whole lot like a native naming ceremony might - I figuratively went out to the wilderness to figure out my role in this large tribe called earth and then owing to my already near-elder stature, I named myself. We worked a lot with figuring out our stances and lesser known but equally impactful defining moments in life, as a way to get clear on what we stood for and showed up as important to us. Early on in this process, it became clear to me that commemorating rites of passage was important to me. Everything from the sacred - milestone birthdays and events - to the profane - hitting my wild thing musical button everytime I accomplished some menial task - has meaning for me.
And so it is that I got tested not even a month later. And that's cool. I can't lie and say I don't feel uncomfortable with being mocked and held at gunpoint at trial for my excessive ways. That's not fun. But it's who I am and I finally own that now. I'm the one that gets the red carpet rolled out at party stores. They see me coming and their response is positively Pavlovian. So be it. It's a tough job but someone's gotta do it.
Same, same with Holy Hub. He takes a stand for quality barbecuing. It's a source of great pride for him as a Weber grill owner. He seldom buys anything but the best cuts of beef or most succulent breeds of salmon. He's also a Webernation member, which is an elite secret society of grill snobs who make it their business to evangelize grill owners of inferior brands as to the Truth of barbecue salvation. No word of a lie - he even has the marketing materials - buttons, stickers, brochures - to prove it.
So we all have our thing, our quirks, our ideosyncracies. For my sister-in-law, it's compulsively folding plastic bags into little triangles whereas for me, it's the tiny details on a party table.
To each their own, this above all, to thine own self be true, and all that crap.
On that note, I have a party that needs tiny details on the table. Pictures at 11.