Wednesday, February 13, 2013

27, so far.

I turned 27 a couple of weeks ago, and as usual, I'm choosing to celebrate all month long. I hope that's something I never outgrow -- the decision to celebrate each year as it passes, by whatever means I'm capable of at the moment.

From 22 through 24, I celebrated mostly with Jordan and my family, lunches and dinners out. At 25, though, I had made more friends in town, and I wanted to throw a blow-out bash for what I considered a milestone event. My word for that year was "celebrate," and I wanted to include as many people as possible in that goal. I did, and it was everything I wanted it to be. For 26, my mood shifted a little, and I wanted to celebrate quietly. When Jordan threw me a surprise party with four of my closest friends, that was plenty. 

This year, I wanted to find a happy medium. I wanted to celebrate small, but I also really wanted to throw a party.

So I did. I threw a dinner party for a very small group of my friends last Friday night, and it was perfect, the most lovely way to welcome 27.

My themed parties are apparently notorious among my friends -- an Office party to celebrate the nuptials of Pam and Jim, annual Oscar parties with themed food, ballots, and bingo -- so naturally, this one followed suit. A friend and I brainstormed and finally came up with a "Southern sophisticate" theme, complete with all of my favorite Southern comfort foods: macaroni and cheese, tomato salad, deviled eggs, cornbread, and green beans.

In adulthood, I'm learning to rely on community. If I want to throw a party, I cannot do it all by myself. (Not if I want to enjoy said party, anyway.) I'm also learning to accept my limitations. If my favorite part of throwing a party is the set-up and the decor, I should ask friends and family to help with the rest. I relied on a good friend who is a far better cook than I to make the cornbread -- which she did, in an iron skillet, no less! -- and another friend threw her energies into baking me one of the prettiest and most delicious cakes I've ever seen. My dad graciously baked two ginormous pans of gourmet macaroni and cheese, meaning all I had to do was set the table (my favorite part), buy favors, and set up. (I also made green beans and tomato salad, both entirely doable after a long work day.) 

The result was a family-style dinner where eight of us crowded around a six-person table and laughed until our cheeks hurt. Because these were friends from all different walks of life -- church, book club, work -- we couldn't talk just about church, or just about book club, or just about work. Instead, we talked about kids, the horrors of air travel, personality types, teaching, Urban Dictionary... It was delightful and varied, something I think may be missing from other gatherings I host. 

I've planned a lot of parties in my 20s, and I've loved them all. It's true, of course, that I am an introvert, and therefore, I thoroughly enjoy the prep of the party, maybe more than I enjoy the party itself. But last Friday, as friends began to fill my kitchen and take their seats around my table, I realized I wasn't stressed anymore. I surround myself with extroverts, so I didn't have to carry the conversation or worry about awkward silences. My friends love me and are gracious and kind, so they were incredibly easy to host. 

They brought flowers and books and the most beautiful cards, but I think the biggest gift these friends gave me was dinner together, time away from their homes on a Friday night they chose to spend with me, in my home.  They baked cake and made cornbread and stayed after the party was finished to wash dishes by hand in my kitchen sink.

If this is what growing up looks like, I'm most definitely game. 


Faith said...

Happy Birthday! I loved reading your thoughts about community. Growing up is a little frightening, but less so when surrounded by great friends.

Angela said...

Happy birthday! Hope 27 is the best year yet!

Sabrina said...

LOVE this post. My favorite one so far this year:) Happy birth month!

Velva said...

Happy Birthday Annie!

Annie said...

It sounds like you had a fabulous birthday celebration! I love how part of growing up is growing into learning how we best celebrate the milestones that mark our lives, and choosing to observe those milestones in those ways which best suit us, regardless of what someone else might do.

I hope you're having a fabulous birthday month, Annie!

Erin said...

Happy Birthday Annie!
That sounds perfect!

lacey said...

oh. this makes me so incredibly happy. i am about to turn the big 2-8, and i'm kind of going into it kicking and screaming (at least in my head). your friend group sounds like they love you so so much. happy belated birthday! and, yes, you darn well should celebrate birthday month. that's kind of what my family does, too!