I have always been a child when it comes to my birthday and why should this year be any different? Last week I received a very business-like telephone call from my mother "Jennifer, it is your birthday on Friday, don't tell Dalene that I am telling you, we have already discussed it and have decided that we are going to be giving you a surprise party". She went on, "Just the usual Christmas crowd (of 22), I will organise the catering and don't argue with me!!". I did argue "But Mom, Nic arrives on Friday morning and he will want his friends to pop in and see him and have a drink". I was thinking early drinks and snacks for friends, maybe boerie rolls and a bit of a party (not often you have a birthday on a Friday). "Don't argue with me Jennifer, his friends can make a plan to see him on Saturday". Now my Mom and Rob are going through a rough time at the moment and Rob starts chemo tomorrow, so I thought it best not to argue with her in her "vulnerable" state. So I kept quiet and carried on my busy week wondering how the hell I was going to act surprised (my worst) and walk into a dinner party of 22 people, who I usually always see on my birthday anyway. I did go to the hairdresser on Thursday.
However, I started getting confused on Thursday afternoon. I had calls from Gareth ("What's happening tomorrow Mom?"), Caroline ("So what are the plans for tomorrow night and what can I do to help?"), Kathy ("What are we doing for your birthday?, How old are we going to be?" (she never knows), Lesley ("One more sleep, whatsup?"). OK, so these 4 are pretty tight with Dalene, they know that I always find out about surprises and these are just red herrings they are throwing (hurtling) at me. My reply to all of them was "Just the Usual" ("The Usual" being you come around to the home of the person having the birthday for drinks and eats). When I spoke to Dalene on Thursday night (one more sleep to my birthday), I became really confused. "So what time does Nic arrive? What are you doing for your birthday?" My reply "11.20, "Just the Usual". Then the ultimate red herring "Jen, if you want to have it at my place you are welcome". Hells Bells what are they trying to do to this nearly 55 year old?
I had a bit of a sleepless night, I worked a bit on my "surprised face", spent time checking my Facebook birthday greetings at 3 am and thought that the best thing to do would be to wait for my "usual" 6 am birthday call from my mother when all would be revealed. 6 am arrived and no call from Mommy, (I felt sad and rejected (not really)) and I headed off on my birthday morning walk still oblivious to what surprises awaited me. At 9.30 am I called my mother, so that she could wish me for my birthday, because this was becoming ridiculous. How much tension can a now 55 year old take?
Just as well I phoned. It transpires that there was some confusion and mixed communications. Dalene knew that surprise parties were my worst and was wanting to find out what I thought about it and my mother thought Dalene on to it and was inviting the family.
This was a surprise party with a difference.
The only person that knew about the surprise party was me - the birthday girl and the person who was supposed to be surprised.
Well all's well that ends well. My mother had organised the catering (no mess ups there). An email was sent to all the family at midday on the birthday, inviting them to the function at my house - the "usual" function that they would always come to (they thought it was "weird"). Nic arrived on time (11.20) from Pretoria (his mother was not there and waiting but was lost in Montague Gardens trying to buy a very special birthday cake), we did some admin and had a doctors appointment, had a lovely sushi lunch and "the usual" noisy family supper around my big table was just perfect. I did not have to do anything besides switch on the oven, the food, salads and breads were done by my Mom, Dalene and Kathy. All's well, ends well. A lovely birthday. And a bonus of Janette coming to tidy up on Saturday morning.
But my birthday was not over. Saturday saw an afternoon "tea". Bubbles, red velvet cheesecake, friends and fun. I have so much admiration for friends who don't want presents and who would like donations made to charities. How can you not want birthday presents? A birthday is an excuse to celebrate and not the reason I enjoy having a party (but opening the presents is such fun). I had a wonderful time opening my pile of presents, arranging them on the table and then photographing them. Maybe I should work in a gift shop.
What is the correct etiquette regarding the opening of presents? It would have been difficult to open each present as it was given to me, so they were saved for the end when most people had left and I could relish in the opening. I would have liked everyone to see just how much I loved their gifts. I am a spoiled girl.
So here are some of them:-
Wayne and Lesley gave me this very special present
Wayne has business to do in Lebanon. This olive oil comes with a book (almost like a bible) telling you the history of the olive groves where this oil is produced. There are 16 trees left in the grove and they are nearly 6000 years old - and they still produce olives. Here is the shortened story. I can't wait to sample it.
Proteas from Nic, roses from Aimee:-
Lisianthus, flameless candles, a wire rabbit and macaroons:-
Michael and I are heading off this week for Noetzie - our favourite place in the world. Gareth, Hayley and Alfie are house sitting and are going to have to sidestep around my monument of birthday gifts, messages and cards on display in the lounge. They have to stay on show until next week when I return to play with them. Michael does not think it a good idea to take them with.
Such a child but it is wonderful to have a birthday.
Thanks for the wishes and love.