We are not big party people. We will never be big party people. When there is a special event in our lives, we invite the same few friends every time. No event is too “special” for a larger, more diverse group. When a birthday nears, we often think, “Oh, should we invite so-and-so?” but we don’t. Our gathering is always the same 4-5 families we see on a weekly, and even daily basis. It’s not that we don’t want to get to know other people, it’s that we enjoy our friends so much, we don’t want to lose any time with them. They are an intricate part of our lives. In the few short years we have lived here, they have become our tribe. Our family.
My daughter’s first communion was early Saturday morning. A few months back, I thought I’d put together a grand celebration. We’d invite my 8-year old’s friends from school, some of my husband’s colleagues, and others who I’d been meaning to have over. But we ended up inviting the same group of people we always do. They came around 2, we ate and drank in the kitchen, then moved outside where we played badminton while the kids jumped in the bounce house, begged for pushes on the swing, rode flattened cardboard boxes down the hill, ran through bubbles.
After a few rounds of badminton, we adults then sat on the hill, talking and drinking chai that had been made by my next door neighbor, snuggling with the remaining toddlers who were well past naptime and collapsed into the picnic blanket.
Finally, around 8, the younger children broke down, and everyone began dispersing. I sent them all off with fresh flowers for Mother’s Day, into the setting sun. Later that night, while helping my daughter into bed, I wondered whether she would have preferred a bigger party, with more people, better food, or more exotic decorations. I wondered if I should have gotten goody bags for the kids. I wondered if it was a mistake for me to tell our friends not to bring gifts.
But my new communicant didn’t seem to notice that anything was missing. She rolled over onto her side, settled her face into her pillow, and as I turned out the light, forced herself back up, mustering all the energy leftover from hours of outdoor play, and thanked me for the best party ever.