When I go to a party I bring enough baggage to travel Europe for a summer and never wear the same outfit twice. I am married to a man who is an elephantine party-pooper. Seriously, I married Eeyore when we attend a party.
My husband and I are both introverts and parties are settings for extroverts to shine. Parties were also the context that Dan had to accompany his mother as a little boy into the world of being her emotional consort. Every party is a faint reminder of a world he has escaped and never wants to remember again. For me a party is a furious day of panic and preparation where every fork and napkin needs to be ordered to keep my perfectionist and social-climbing mother from being enraged.
When we were newlyweds I thought we would attend and throw lots of parties. The only party I remember giving was a Christmas party when Dan taught for Grace Seminary. I addressed invitations to all of the Seminary professors (and their wives) who were in the Seminary’s directory. One couple was not listed in the directory. I didn’t realize that this man was teaching alongside my husband and his mentor. Most regrettably, this couple was not sent an invitation. There is something about a party that brings strong desire, expectation and potential heartache to the surface.
Every party is an anticipation of the celebration that will be thrown in our honor when we come to our final home. Even a simple birthday party prefigures the day when we will one day be born again into our perfect, innocent, new body.
In 1984 My Little Ponies were all the rage with little girls. I would buy a few each time I went to K-Mart and hide them until I packed Dan’s suitcase for his eight-day seminars. I lovingly wrapped and placed one pony into the edge of his suitcase. It was always a gleeful fanfare when he finally arrived home. Annie felt her daddy’s love and delight each time he opened his suitcase and she found his special gift for her.
It was only fitting that she wanted a My Little Pony birthday party that year.
Many days before her party I began drawing individual My Little Ponies. I painted them and added glitter. I painstakingly used my college calligraphy pens to script each crown. The night before the party Annie placed each beautiful handcrafted crown on each child’s place setting at the crepe paper regaled table. The glorious scene took our breath away. Perfection.
The snowy February morning finally arrived and each place setting on the table had a darling My Little Pony crown on it. After gifts were opened and games were played the girls walked into the dining room in awe of the crowns that were theirs to wear. My daughter is 38 and she still remembers that party with more joy than any other.
A party is like a container that can’t hold all that is poured inside.
As much as we love the idea of abundance and extravagance, it is lovely when we can give it to others, and less so when it is our crown to wear. We need to be young, very young, to let the container overflow for ourselves and not feel self-conscious.
The ultimate party will be the one in which Jesus puts a crown of glory on our head and shouts to the heavens His joy in our return. He will regale the host of heaven with our faithfulness and grieve with us for all that we have suffered. Scripture says that angels are in awe of human beings because we are made in the image of God. They are in awe because we have lived by faith when they live in the sight of the most holy God.
If I would take to the party the holy awareness that each human being is made in the image of God and has lived through tragic and heroic feats comprised of love and suffering, I would be less self-conscious and more present to “the weight of glory” before me. Every person has the potential to wear a crown that is heavier than his or her earthly head can bear. Every party is a taste of the coming banquet.
If I would only touch the crown of my head and anticipate the coming party, then even my introversion and past pressure could fade enough to take far less baggage to the party. Time to party on Dan!
Becky Allender lives on Bainbridge Island with her loving, wild husband of almost 40 years. A mother and grandmother, she is quite fond of sunshine, yoga, Hawaiian quilting and creating 17th Century reproduction samplers. A community of praying women, loving Jesus, and the art of gratitude fill her life with goodness. She wonders what she got herself into with Red Tent Living! bs