It was a celebration fit for a queen – Our Queen! This past weekend we honored our beloved mom, wife, grandmother, and great-grandmother in royal style. It was an event I’m sure none of us, especially our guest of honor, will ever forget.
The planning, which began in August, started to come to life the Wednesday before the party with the arrival of my daughter Carolyn. With little time to spare for decorating, we bee-lined straight to local hardware store Sullivan’s to pick out a Christmas tree. After a few minutes Carolyn spotted it, I mean her – Bridget, that is. Each tree was tagged with a name, and Bridget was a beauty. Upon arrival to her new home, we carried Bridget in and set her up. The decorating would begin the next day upon the arrival of more family.
Son Mike, daughter-in-law Beth, and granddaughter Jess from Florida arrived Thursday night, and the baking, cleaning, and decorating were in full force by Friday morning. The birthday girl had a Follies show scheduled at 1 p.m. that day, where the first surprise visitors would be revealed. As we entered the retirement home hosting the show, Mom broke down as the Florida crew casually walked in. She had no idea, but this was just the beginning of many more surprises to come.
Next to arrive was daughter Diana who showed up at Mom’s house after the show. Then at our “quiet birthday dinner,” daughter Maria, son-in-law Wayne, and grandson Will popped out with Carolyn. After a dinner that was anything but quiet, son Tom appeared through the front door (click for video) along with daughter-in-law Debbie, granddaughter Meghan, and great-grandson Thomas. Smiles, tears, and laughter filled the room, but more surprises lay ahead.
Soon after the first of four birthday cakes was cut, the back door flew open and grandson Nate appeared. Mom was in disbelief as Nate had been home just a week earlier for Thanksgiving. Our Queen beamed as we enjoyed her favorite almond cake with chocolate ganache filling, surrounded by loved ones.
Next we moved to the living room for our first series of birthday gifts. This one arrived in the form of a large, brightly colored bag packed with seven presents. As Mom unwrapped the first item, I explained that it was time to pick out a birthday dress. Maria held up the first one accurately dubbed “Classic.” Debbie paraded around the next very sparkly, sequined frock Mom called “Street Walker.” Next out of the bag was a bright Christmas red ensemble that I immediately grabbed and branded “Royal Red.” Another beauty was delicate “Ruffles,” which drew attention from the crowd as grandson Will modeled it. And then there was “Rose´ All Day,” a hot pink number that Nate proudly displayed. “Sleeves” followed and got some good press by Jess, whose acting abilities shined just like they had on stage in her high school musicals.
And the final dress … (drumroll please). Husband Ed snatched it out of Mom’s hands and declared it the winner the moment the dress was unveiled — “Simple Elegance” was its name. The models then took a final parade lap around the living room with their best sell job. Then Mom selected her Top 3 — Rose´ All Day, Royal Red, and Simple Elegance. With the groans of a few dissenters, the group decided to add one more back in, voting for a “Comeback Dress” and giving Jess the nod with “Sleeves.” In the end, Ed was right. He picked the winner — in dresses and women. Our beautiful Queen would be donned in “Simple Elegance” on her birthday. But she still had no idea that she would be wearing it for a party in her honor.
The next day, December 1, was the official birthday and it began with a family brunch and a Porchcast, complete with robing and coronation with a shimmering new golden 90th crown. Then came a few more gifts and an announcement, “You have the dress. You have the crown. And it’s your big day so we’re going big. Surprise, we’re having a party!” Upon hearing the cue word “party,” a few assigned family members disappeared into rooms behind closed doors and emerged with decorated tables complete with cake, treats, flowers, decorations, etc. A few minutes later the first party guests arrived along with son Scott, who had traveled from Italy to be a part of this special day. Friends continued to file in all afternoon with birthday greetings, and a cake with 90 candles lit up the room to top off the celebration. After it was all over, a quiet family dinner awaited, featuring Mom’s favorite chicken divan and Dandy’s (her mother) graham cracker cake.
For the grand finale to this amazing weekend celebration, we withdrew to the basement to watch a 45-minute video created by Jess in honor of the birthday girl — to tell her story through photos, videos, and her favorite songs. Tears welled up when the video started as a lifetime of memories flashed before our eyes. Dancing, speeches, and lots of hugs completed the night.
Mom, From mother of 7 to grandmother of 18, to great-grandmother of 4, you make 90 look easy. Here’s to many more years and celebrations to come. We love you, Mom!
Long Live Our Queen!