My wife started planning our daughter’s first birthday party months ahead of time.
It was an intricate circus theme, including 19 documented ideas that I will spare you of except for these: wine bottles whose labels were entitled “cirque du vin” or had circus elephants on them; three flavors of homemade popcorn served in bright red pails with chrome-plated scoops and red and white striped peanut bags; and mini circus-animal cake pops.
If you want to have such a party, let me know and I’ll send you the whole list, but I will also probably try to sell you our leftover circus-animal paper plates. We killed the torpedo keg of Daisy Cutter, which was satisfying, and we pulled most of the plans off, except the next day we realized there were things we bought but never put out. And we spent most of the party working our asses off until, finally, after the singing and cake smearing, we were able talk to people. Then they left.
My wife’s best idea for the party, though, was to request that the guests bring a sealed letter of advice for my daughter to open on her 18th birthday. Most everyone obliged, and we stacked them in a mini turquoise suitcase that a circus performer might use as he traveled across country by train.
I wasn’t able to finish (or even start) my letter in time, so one night a few weeks later, I sat down with some paper and jotted down a stream-of-consciousness list of how to live a happy, healthy and balanced life, such as:
- You are smart and can do anything you want.
- Be confident in yourself and don’t ruminate on past decisions.
- Spend some stretch of your life with a regular yoga or meditation practice.
- Save 10–15% of every paycheck for retirement and live within your means.
- Write short stories about yourself and your experiences.
I bought a nice leather journal where I‘ll rewrite it. Since this will only use the first few pages, I plan to use the rest to add more advice as it comes to mind, and to scribble outlines for potential stories about her that may or may not ever get written.
My son’s first birthday (a cowboy theme) is coming up in June, and I know we’ll go all out again. But hopefully it’s a bit toned down from our daughter’s first. I’ll probably skip on the mechanical bull.
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