Party Countdown


Dear Family and Friends

Well, all the preparations are just about finished for the crazy party I have planned for tomorrow nite. I will write after the party to report on all the goings on and how it all turns out, but I have to sit down tonite and tell you a small tale. It has to do with my own Sweet 16 – planned by my mother and her best friend Ceil, so very many years ago.

At the time, I was rather…..lets say, into being more of a flower child than a debutante. My concept was to have a party in the park, have everyone bring their guitars, sing folk songs, and kind of kick back and zone out. My mother had a different idea so she had my cousin invite the entire Temple Teens group to a surprise party at my house (unfortunately, I was acquainted with only the most non-Temply Teens in the group – that was of no importance to her). So after a wonderful dinner out with my cousin, who took me for a “date” at a Chinese Restaurant, I returned home to a house full of people yelling “surprise!” It really was a surprise, as I didn’t know more than half of them. Only my mother was capable of such broad range surprises.

At any rate, when I entered the den, the ceiling was hung with ridiculous baggies full of sugar cubes and glitter, tied up with pink bows – the very thing to decorate. I figured either we were going to gain immunity against Polio, or have a Timothy Leary affair. My whole life I have never gotten over the ridiculous aspect of these sixteen bags of sixteen sugar cubes – how stupid can you get? I mean – come on!

So this morning, after the umpteenth trip to the store, the umpteenth trip to put away food in my friends refrigerator, and having everything pretty much tied down, Beverly, Ceils daughter calls me. She tells me how I must do the sugar cube thing. I loved Aunt Ceil – when Sara was born, she came and spent a week helping me, because my mother wasn’t alive, and she wanted to do that for her, and before she died I went down to LA to cook her Rosh HaShana dinner that she did every year for the extended family – about 50 people. I was happy to have the opportunity to give something back. It pleased her so to be able to have her dinner, even though she was too sick to do much except give instructions and taste to make sure I did it right. And Beverly told me that if I did the sugar cubes, it would be as if a little bit of her were right here helping us celebrate.

Well, I never DID think about it that way before. She was right. It was stupid, but perhaps because it was SO stupid I always thought about it and it really stuck with me. Maybe she’s right. Maybe it is good luck. It certainly can’t hurt. And what is tradition anyway? It’s whatever we decide makes us who we are and what we are – and whatever and whomever we embrace is part of what forms us. Family is about loving people – you can create the family you want by finding those people you want to be your family and treating them like it.

So here we are – I have prepared sixteen little baggies, each containing sixteen sugar cubes – sprinkled with heart glitter and tied with cascading curls of pink ribbons. I’ll hang them up tomorrow, because – in that way, I will bring back my mother and Ceil and they will be here, helping to celebrate yet another Sweet Sixteen – in their own inimitable way. I give up. Its bigger than I am, and I can’t fight it.

Mother, I hope you are happy. I thought maybe you were smoking something then. Maybe I have gone soft in the head – who knows? I know for certain that whatever spells I can cast to help push the winds of fortune in her direction are worth the effort. I know how quickly the days are speeding by. Monday she’ll be a high school junior. Last week I think I took her to her first day of kindergarten. These moments are the moorings that hold our life together – and I want her voyage to be jeweled with memories that will sparkle and keep her smiling as she wanders through. Glad to be grabbing onto the opportunity for a celebration.

I will write you a full report as soon as I’ve got it all cleaned up and put away. As for me, I’m all ready for the day to dawn – Cooking is cooked, supplies are at hand, plans are made, and bring on the day!