They are awesome people. They are kind. They are generous. They are intelligent. They are caring. They are playful. They are serious. They are loving. They are the parents that raised three kids to love and cherish family, friends, America, and God. They are my parents.
In October of last year, I realized my parents would be celebrating some pretty momentous occasions in 2012 and we would need to celebrate. Celebrate more than the funny cards and homemade dessert at Sunday dinner; how we normally do things. I rallied the troops (my sister and brother) and we started plotting February 25, 2012.
In March 2012 my father will celebrate his 70th birthday. It’s crazy to me that he is 70. He doesn’t act or look 70. But he has the wisdom and insight as if he’s lived 1,000 years.
In May 2012 my mother and father will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. That is something most certainly to be honored. And I know my sister, brother, and I strive to achieve that same anniversary for our marriages one day.
To top it all off, my mother FINALLY decided to retire from Occupational Therapy in the public schools (this has been an ongoing
persuasion conversation in our family for the past 3 years). I’m ashamed to say I don’t know how long she has worked. I know she got her Masters in Occupational Therapy the day she married my father (“I got my M.S. and my Mrs. on the same day” she always jokes)- so technically she’s retiring from 40 years of being an OT. This week will be her last of work. She has helped so many children in her years of work.
Yes, this party needed to be BIG!
Months of planning and preparation, a crazy week of cleaning, cooking, rearranging, and decorating all culminated in one of the best nights in our family’s life.
60 of our parents’ family (near and far) and friends (church, work, gym – silver and gold) gathered at my house half an hour before the impending arrival. I used the ruse of celebrating Cambodian New Year early (due to Baby #2′s arrival preventing us from celebrating in April) to lure them to our house for dinner at 7. In order to keep them from coming early to play with Buggy, my brother “rode” with them and happened to show up late enough that they wouldn’t get to my house until 7. We are geniuses I tell you.
They had absolutely, positively, NO IDEA! They opened the door and all 60 of us yelled “SURPRISE!” They certainly were.
There were numerous ways we honored them that night – not just the number of guests and the surprise aspect.
My brother and I carried out a recon mission a few weeks prior to the party where we scoured our parents’ house while they were away. All 3 of us collected from ourselves and borrowed from our friends and coworkers. We collected photos and mementos from their lives to display on “celebration tables”, as we called them. My father’s sister sent pictures and an album she made. We showcased each celebrated event with a table full of memories and honor.
Pictures, their wedding album, the ring pillow Mom made for my wedding out of her own wedding dress, their wedding announcement from the newspaper, and other mementos.
Pictures of my mother, OT handbooks and textbooks, lots of OT “toys”, my mother’s Masters thesis.
Pictures of my father over the years, his report card and high school diploma, Texas Tech calendar, cowboy boots, Lions Club award, family photos.
The pants just had to come with us. Aren’t they awesome?
Along with LOTS of food (as in more than we needed), there was a gorgeous and delicious cake made by a talented friend, Cakes by Amy.
Most important were the “gifts”. We asked guests to gift a moment, memory, or congratulatory thought to my parents in a card. A basket in the foyer almost filled to the brim with well wishes, blessings, and memories for my parents. Friends and family unable to join us are mailing their cards as we speak. I know they will cherish these cards for years to come.
My super talented brother put together an amazing slideshow of scanned and digital photos that was set to music. It played all night for everyone to view and enjoy. He also made our own gifts to our parents (other than the party itself). A picture map of their beginnings (Pennsylvania and Texas) and where they have called home for more than 40 years (Virginia) – which I shamefully do not have a picture of. But greatest of all, he put together a beautiful collage for their 40th anniversary of wedding and family photo album pictures. It is stunning.
I couldn’t have imagined this party going any better than it actually did. Our parents were stunned and amazed, the guests were stunned and amazed, the party planners were stunned and amazed. It was a magical night and I can’t think of any better way to honor two of the most important people in my life. I love you mom and dad.
For those that couldn’t join us, I hope this gives you a glimpse into the night. Thanks to everyone who has played a part in helping to honor Mom and Dad. Special thanks to Hubby for being such an excellent photographer to capture the night.