May I Have the Envelope, Please!
By Jody Worsham
All right reserved for birthday candles.
The children and I had been planning my husband's birthday party for a month. It's not every day you turn seventy! We decided to have his birthday celebration at our favorite campsite and invited all his friends and family to join us there. The birthday menu consisted of brisket, potato salad, beans, and what I called the Obama cake (looks good, tastes good, but definitely not good for you).
The day of the party, the children blew up balloons and tied them to the camper awning which was still intact thanks to my previous efforts to hold it down during a thunderstorm (see blog "Hold Down the Fort"). We put up a yard sign announcing the event.
I had found a few pictures of my husband in the baby book his mother had given us. Being the fourth child of seven, there weren't very many pictures of him and even fewer of him alone, mostly his school pictures. I copied the pictures and attached them to a poster board with the caption "Do You Know this Man?" Then we listed several questions. Guests were invited to write their answers on post-it notes and attach them to the appropriate question. Here are some of the results
"How old was he when he got an indoor toilet?" Answers ranged from 7 years to 16 years old. The answer was 22 years old. I remember because all of the future Worsham daughters-in-law did the dance of joy when it was installed.
"How many Dr. Peppers has he consumed in 70 years?" Answers ranged from a low of 49,000 to a million to six more than Campbell. I don't know the actual answer but I wish I had invested in Dr. Pepper stock back in 1945.
"What previous jobs has he held before coming to the college?" Tinsmiths, highway construction, high school teacher, bus driver, all manner of farm work were among the jobs listed. All true.
"How many gallons of water has he pumped out of his pond since he began digging it out seven months ago?" That was easy for the person with a calculator, 1, 250,000 gallons of water which is why most of the wildlife in our area have been using our swimming pool as their watering hole. Hubby had kept the ponds dry.
"What position in college basketball did he play?" Most were surprised that he played college basketball so "on the bench" was the most popular answer. Actually he played forward.
After going over all the remaining questions, it was time for the lighting of the birthday candles and the group picture. I opted not to light 70 candles on the cake because a) there's a fire ban in place and 70 candles might bring out the fire trucks, b) candles 1-5 would be completely burned down by the time I got to candles 65-70, and c) it's hard to find 6 boxes of birthday candles all the same color. I had bought a single "7" and "0" candle for the cake. I brought out the Obama cake but the search for and the #7 candle and the #0 candle did not yield either. At home I had several sets of numerical candles because I could never keep up with the candles I bought, or I was always off one number. Ever the queen of improvisation, I grabbed the envelope from a birthday card and wrote 70 on it and stuck it in the edge of the pan. Everyone smiled, picture taken, however, I did not light the envelope.
Our children and the visiting cousins disappointed at the lack of pyro-technics went back to playing. Our five-year-old and our seven-year-old were introducing them to Slide Down the Dry Bluff. When the dust clouds threatened to add flavor to our cake, I sent them further down the bluff to the little valley below our campsite where they were still in our sight but no flavor was being added to dessert. Later I observed them playing a game that I could only describe as "The Ninja Warrior Palm Frond War, Chase and Take". Being city children, the cousins could take them at Nintendo or any other computer game, but out in a field with no batteries, extension cords, or electronics, my kids were "Masters of the Dirt".
Our youngest granddaughter, age 16 months, wanted to join in on the fun and could have been a formidable opponent had she been allowed to compete, but she had to be content testing out all the lawn chairs. She spent the better part of the afternoon playing "Goldilocks and the Seventeen Chairs". No sooner had she climbed onto one chair, making a face that communicated total dissatisfaction, than she went for another. I think her favorite was the blue chair. She kept coming back to it as a touchstone when comparing it to the other chairs.
When the party tables were folded and the chairs and food put away, the kids declared this the best birthday party they ever went to even without a big birthday candle fire. I hosed the dirt off the children with a water hose and told them to run around the RV park until they were dry.
I saved the posters and post-it note answers. I was about to throw away the "birthday candle" when my husband said "May I have the envelope, please?" He took the envelope, pretended to open it, and takes out a card and read "And the winner is….me". Ok, that will get him at least 20 more birthday parties and kajillion more poker nights out.