“Oh, Marilla, looking forward to things is half the pleasure of them,” exclaimed Anne. “You mayn’t get the things themselves; but nothing can prevent you from having the fun of looking forward to them. Mrs. Lynde says, ‘Blessed are they who expect nothing for they shall not be disappointed.’ But I think it would be worse to expect nothing than to be disappointed.”
(~L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables)
There is a word in Dutch that we don’t have in English, voorpret. It describes pre-fun, the sense of enjoyment felt before a party or event takes place.
I’ve watched my Bella-girl these past couple months as she has planned and prepared and anticipated her birthday party. She had a folder with sketches and artwork and plans. She looked through pinterest ideas with me, so she could create a beautiful table for her friends. She made lists of fairy garden supplies and tea flavors and hors d’oeuvres. She could. not. wait.
Last week was brutal for me. I could not function. This wasn’t just a curled-up-on-the-couch kind of not functioning, this was an I-can’t-even-crawl-out-of-bed not functioning. She would curl in bed with me, and we’d scheme and plan. The invitations had been sent. The party was Saturday. It couldn’t be moved. What would we do?
Bri was in Seattle for the week, and my parents came up to help us. They ran errands and bought food and Daddy scrubbed outdoor tables free of pollen and helped prepare the outside for her party. A friend mowed our grass. Another friend lent us her tea set to add to mine (inherited from Brian’s Grandma). Knowing I might be down from chemo, I had already asked a sweet friend if she’d make Bella’s cake. Mom helped make tea sandwiches and chopped veggies. I shopped with Mom one day for fairy garden supplies, and ended up sitting down in the middle of the store because I couldn’t go any further. Home we went, where I curled up again. Mom and I both ended up with colds, neither feeling on top of our game to put it mildly. You have to be kidding me?
On Friday, sweet Bella girl had two friends spend the night. My parents had gone home and Bear was at a sleepover. I loved the sound of my home filled with giggles and late night stifled laughter. We ordered pizza and they prepared for the party, tying twine around napkins and creating name cards for each place. They prepped mason jars with straws and filled containers with fairy garden supplies.
My fever spiked that night, so I got the girls settled and Ash hung out with me in my room to watch a movie. As he readied for bed, he came in to wish me good night. “Mom, you look miserable. What can I do?” I told him I just needed a good night of sleep, and he leaned down, kissing the top of my head, “Mom, if you can’t run the party tomorrow, you just tell me what to do. I’ll run it for you.” Y’all, that dear, dear boy… just imagine him running a fairy garden tea party for fourteen giggling girls! His heart is huge.
I woke the next morning with no trace of cold, no fever, and just a tinge of laryngitis. Bear arrived home. Then Brian. Things were falling into place as the boys moved tables and set up canopies outside to prepare for the heat. A sunny 90 degree day! The girls worked tirelessly on decorations and food, chattering and laughing together. They covered the table with glittery twists of tulle and organized Brian’s grandmother’s tea set. Bear made an appetizer for the party while the girls ran off to change and do each other’s hair and wait for friends to arrive.
Tabitha arrived with the cake, and oh, y’all… the cake. Tabitha not only created a wistful thing of beauty, she prayed over it, she knew words were my love language, so she filled butterflies with words that Bella could keep in her memory box. She went above and beyond, even stopping by the side of the road on her way to our house to pick poppies and add them to flowers she had chosen for our girl.
Girls started arriving. Dear Gen, an older sibling arrived with her sisters. She came to be my helper, and joined Ash in carrying cups and plates and filling glasses and cleaning up when it was over. Ash climbed the swingset and watched the activities from his perch above. Bear hid in the house away from all the chaos, only coming up for air for food when we called. Bri filled our yard with joyous music.
And thirteen girls descended on our yard to create fairy gardens to take home, to run and play with Coop, to laugh around a beautiful table and fill their hearts and bellies. They piled around Bella as she opened gifts and oohed and ahhed. Our neighbors (Bella just adores Miss Emily) joined us for slices of cake. I loved watching it all, sharing stories of how the lemonade pitcher was Brian’s Grandma’s (purchased before World War II–such a lovely heirloom), laughing with Gen, and reveling in the delight of the girls as they tried to figure out whether they should raise their pinky or not when they drank. It really couldn’t have been more perfect.
I marveled afterward at all the hands involved. So many who stepped in where I could not to make Bella’s first party-planning event a success. Our hearts are so full.
And Bella? Oh, y’all… sweet Bella. After it was over, she leaned into me, overflowing with gratefulness. “Mom?” she whispered, “It was everything I hoped for…
Then she looked up, eyes sparkling. “I’m already planning next year!”