Saturday was my birthday party. I invited my family and closest, longest-known friends (and their families) to have dinner with me at the Center Street Grill. We had a room to ourselves and a separate table for the kids, and of the 25 who'd RSVPed, I only had one adult and one kid who had to cancel at the last minute (due to illness, so I'm grateful that she kept it home). Which meant that the room looked like this:
And the kids' table looked like this:
It was a great party. I'd brought little activity bags for the kids with pencils and crayons and notepads and notebooks and play jewelry to keep them occupied, and it worked surprisingly well -- we only had to turn around to tell the kids to get back in their seats about once every five minutes instead of the usual ninety seconds.
The adults had a great time eating and talking and eating some more; I thought there would be more drinking, but I never even got around to ordering anything other than iced tea. As dinner was winding up, there were some fireworks outside that completely wowed the kids -- apparently, they thought it was, in fact, part of the party, and they all ran to the window to look. (I have no idea what they were really for -- the general consensus was that it was probably a Veteran's Day thing.)
When I stood up to do a general introduction around the table and thank everyone for coming, I found myself completely overwhelmed with gratitude that I could count so many wonderful and interesting people among my friends. I did the introductions, and then got about as far as, "Thank you all for coming. I'm really happy you could all make it, and I'm just... Just..." And then my mom chimed in with "...Forty!" and we all cracked up with laughter.
And one benefit of having guests at your party who've known you for more than twenty years is that they bring perfect gifts. I'm just sayin'. A "writer's kit" (gorgeous feathered quill, chocolate, and wine). A gorgeous new coffee mug and a Barnes and Noble gift card nestled in a reusable little book-shaped box. A board game that appears to be the evil twin of the bastard child of Candyland and D&D. And that's just a few! Plus, most of the card were hysterically funny. Do these people know what I like, or what?
The only downer was poor Henry's stomach rebelling at the combination of corn dog and chocolate milk and Sprite and ice cream, and reversing engines, so the entire Hegemony set had to pack up and head out pretty much immediately after dessert, while the rest of us stuck around for another hour, just chatting.
At one point, I saw the waitress bring in the bill folder, and I started to reach for it... but she went around to the far side of the table and handed it to my dad. "Hey," I said, "that comes to me!"
My dad took his already-run credit card out of the folder and said, "Yes, that's what they told me." And that on top of the gift they'd given me -- that I hadn't been expecting, because they'd bought me some very nice jewelry while we were in Cancun as my early birthday present!!!
And to top it all off, despite Henry's mishap, the Hegemony took Alex home with them, and when we were all done at Center Street, Matt and I took Penny over to their place as well -- they kept both our kids (along with all four of theirs!) overnight, so that Matt and I could have a child-free date night.
We'd talked about catching Cabaret at William and Mary, but the party didn't break up until after the show had started, so we just went over to the Barnes and Noble and wandered around, relishing the ability to peruse at our own pace and not having to take turns remaining confined to the children's area to keep an eye on the kids. I bought some stuff with the B&N gift card I'd just received, and we also picked up some Christmas gifts for the kids. Then we went home and watched one of our Netflix (Casanova, which I was expecting to be a sexy drama, or perhaps a dramedy, but it turned out to be completely campy and stupid, alas). But we got to sleep in a bit the next morning, and we went out to breakfast and got to bask in a meal where we didn't have to tell anyone to be quiet and sit down, argue with Penny about volume or carbiness of her selections, or cut up Alex's food for him. Ah, bliss.
It had been Alex's first sleepover anywhere, and he had a fantastic time. He was all set to do it again Sunday night -- alas, we had to shoot that down, as it was a school night. But Braz and Adin promised that both our kids had been well-behaved and wonderful (they'd only had to tell Alex and Henry to shut up and go to sleep two or three times!), so it looks like another sleepover could well happen in the future! Whoo-hoo! (And now, if we can just get Ripley comfortable with the notion of sleeping over at our place, we could trade sleepovers with them and get more frequent kid-free nights!)
So all in all: doubleplus good, awesome, amazing, fantastic weekend. As KT and Kevin told me: Obviously, I need to have 40th birthday parties more often!