It’s not my party!

There was a party at my house last Saturday night. It was a pretty big party and one I notified the neighbors about so they would be prepared for the traffic, people, noise and a yard full of lights. But this wasn’t my party. I wasn’t the host. I was essentially the venue.

My great-nephew Kristopher (see My Graduate) is graduating from high school and his parents threw his party at my house.  They made the plans, bought the supplies and food and spent the time stringing up a mile of lights around my house. Tables and chairs filled the back yard and food/beverage tables were set up on the back porch deck. A jumping castle that could hold adults was set up in the front yard (fondly called the football field) was a dead giveaway there was something happening here to passing vehicles.

I was the venue. It was also my gift. I have this big place that Kristopher, along with his siblings, grew up coming here. It was an interesting dynamic for me not being the host. I am a pretty good party planner and most people enjoy a party at my place. But this was about Kristopher and his parents. Indeed, there was family I am related to and mutual friends in attendance, but I found a balance helping my niece with the steady refilling of food dishes and running interference when something needed attention so she could spend time with her guests.

A day later and the only signs of a party are the full garbage cans ready for Wednesday’s collection and the occasional glow necklace or bracelet in the grass. My home is at peace now, gathering energy for the next party, my own or otherwise. I’m open.

-N

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People watching

I was at Tucson International Airport last week to pick up my husband who was flying in from North Dakota and I took the opportunity to do some people watching. I love to people watch. It was late Wednesday afternoon and the airport was pretty slow. I found his flight on the arrival/departure board and sat down to wait the 30 minutes until his arrival.

One of the first things I noticed was this gathering of around ten people, some of them had a balloon bouquet that said “Welcome Back.” It was obvious they were together. I started to imagine it might be a returning soldier, but I didn’t see any flags, so maybe not. What I did notice was that every few minutes someone else would show up, get hugged by the others and settle into the little community.  It seemed there were now about thirty people gathered in one spot. Who were these folks?

Out of the blue this voice pierces the air. “There he is!” And just like that they were chattering, bouncing and hugging, again. I watched the escalator just like everyone else, ready to see “him”. Who was the human who could bring all of these people together just to greet him and welcome him home?

I caught a brief glimpse as the humans swarmed him. He was a baby faced, fair haired young man who was clasped tightly by someone I could only imagine was his mother in a strong embrace. The fair haired young man and his mother held each other, in tears, in a hug that seemed to last five minutes. No one interrupted them and cell phones were busy. I was so moved by this display of love I had to look away to gather myself.

What did this mean? He was dressed in a black suit, with a name badge on his chest. There were family and friends with lots of tears and smiles. The comments from them were welcome back, good job, and we are so proud of you.  Ok, putting all of these clues together, the fair haired young man was just back from a Mormon mission.

This congregation moved to the baggage claim area and I continued my people watching. Fifteen more minutes until Chuck’s arrival.

Humans were milling about, waiting for passengers and biding their time. I looked up to see a beautiful young woman in a pale green dress holding the hand of a little girl and carrying a sign saying “Welcome Home Daddy”. I can figure this one out!  The little girl was obviously anxious and the beautiful mother was trying to keep her daughter calmed. They approached the escalators to wait and I looked up when “Daddy!” rang loudly through the area as only a child’s excited voice can. The little girl ran into her fathers open arms. His grin was broad as he gathered her up, wrapping both arms snugly around her. There was lots of kissing and hugging with these two.

I was charmed. I was a daddy’s girl.

Then beautiful the mother and the handsome father got their own kisses and hugs in and the whole family held tight to one another as they went to the baggage claim.

I sat again and looked at the monitor displaying the disembarking passengers just in time to notice my husband in his navy blue long sleeved Arizona Wildcats t-shirt, his go-to travel dress, heading my way. I got my own hug and kiss and as we left the airport I told him all about the people waiting just like me.

-N

My graduate

My great-nephew is graduating from high school. This is a young man who struggled in school when he was younger. In fact I home schooled him for his third grade year because the school he was attending had no resources to tutor him. So I quit work and spent the year bringing his math skills up to the appropriate level.  This was a child who could read at a fourth grade level but couldn’t add.

I was not going to let him fail and I was the one who could help him. After researching into what his math block might be I found that as we are starting to learn our brains break the concept of numbers into the visual-the number we see and the conceptual-what that number is in quantity. For example the number 3 is visual. The number III is conceptual. But they are equivalent. He had a disconnect between these. In his mind 1+3 and 3+1 required separate calculations. They were independent of each other. This was a young person who required the old-fashioned memorization process.

Once this process was put into place using math flash cards he started making progress. By the time our year was complete he could add, subtract and had started to learn multiplication. He could tell time and make change.

The most amazing thing was I could reward his hard work with history and literature. This little fella loved history. We learned about all fifty states by the history of each state.

I also helped him become a student. I tried to impress on him that the teacher was there for all of the students but it was difficult for a teacher to work individually with their students and he needed to make sure the teacher knew when he needed help. We worked out the way for him to ask for help and what to expect in a public school classroom of 25-30 students. He did well one-on-one but was shy in expressing himself in the classroom.

He is graduating from high school and my heart is happy.

Congrats Kristopher.

-N

A human mixture

Last night I hosted a Christmas party for some family and friends because my son and his wife were here. They are staying for a short time before we all go to California to spend Christmas at Disneyland and I knew that they would like it.

The fun I find in hosting is when the mix of guests works and how comfortable people become together.  Last night was a perfect reflection of the magic of a group of humans who find similarity while enjoying food, drink and music.

Of course there is the family connection and we had four generations there!

Then the friends. My bff and her family are like family, and my husband’s bestie and his wife are the same.  These two group’s know each other because we have partied together before and the men golf together.

There were also some good friends of ours who are more the age of my son who were also acquainted with other family members from years ago, they went to school together.

The only ones who had no previous connections were our neighbor and his son. But it didn’t take long to fix that-they are cool people and easy to get to know. It seemed that there was a feeling of fun and community which always is pleasant to see happen.

The ones who couldn’t make it were missed, but the easy conversation, plentiful food and drink and a brilliant Christmas tree wove its magic through the crowd. I was charmed and happy to see these people connecting while they traveled the path of the human desire for happy and fulfilling experiences in settings of celebration.

My son and daughter-in-law enjoyed a seasonal welcome to Catalina and I was blessed that so many people would come out and spend a Friday night this close to Christmas with us.

-N