Portrait of a Mother: Litchfield County’s Martha Stewart(s)

I was nine and a half years old when my father turned thirty-nine. My mother threw him a surprise party in the back room of a local Italian restaurant. She sent out gorgeous invitations, which she had framed, and bought him a baseball shirt that had ALMOST 40 embroidered on the back. I catalogued that party for future use. For my thirteenth birthday, I planned a party in that same restaurant’s back room. This party was not only one of the best birthday parties I have ever had, but also the party that solidified my love for event planning.

My birthdays have become quieter affairs since I began high school, but that is more out of timing than anything else. I have learned to transfer my previous passions for my birthday to the most wonderful time of the year. This year was my third annual Christmas party, and it was the most extra one yet. The theme was a mix of Roaring Twenties and Mariah Carey. I served hors d’oeuvres and virgin Paloma Fizzes. The pièce de résistance was the chocolate layer cake with Grand Marnier buttercream, chocolate ganache, and candied orange peels. I hired a medium to read all my friends. Paige told me, as I set out plate after plate of food, that she would have been happy with pizza. I told her I have an aesthetic to keep up.

To keep up the magic of these parties, I am not going to go into the intricacies of pulling it all together (at least, not now). The only people who truly know what it takes to pull off these parties are Amelia and my mother. Because Amelia knows, she has promised me to always be on time and never miss the parties, and she lets me complain about my college-aged friends when they behave like college-aged people. Because my mother knows, she chose this year to grace me with her extensive file folders of her Christmas parties past.

My mother used to throw an annual Christmas extravaganza. She stopped because some people couldn’t behave themselves. Photographs and file folders are all that remains of those evenings. As we went through them together looking for inspiration, she had the same wide-eyed look on her face that I get when I’m in planning mode.

My mother has changed, and I don’t think extravaganzas are her speed anymore. She no longer appreciates the cooking, the set up, or the clean up. After this year’s Christmas party, I found comfort in the quiet moments draping blankets over couches, rolling meatballs, and collecting plates after the meal. It was made better when Amelia left the game of CandyLand going on in the basement to come to the kitchen and chat with me while I cleaned and prepared hot chocolate. However, I can see where my mother may have lost her enthusiasm for the work. I decided never to compose a meal from hors d’oeuvres again: they are not worth the work for the time it takes to eat them.

I have told my mother at least sixty-four times in the past few weeks that I want to plan her a birthday party. She turns fifty this year and I cannot let that go by without recognition. The last milestone party I threw was for hers and my dad’s twentieth anniversary. It was a surprise party, and my father was almost a no-show. In all honesty, it could have been pulled off better, but I was only fifteen when I planned it. I’m a seasoned party planner now. My mom put her foot down and said no party, so no party. But my father loves to be the center of attention, so I have a Pinterest board going for his fiftieth.

My mother gave me all this party planning energy and now I cannot even throw her a party. So if you or a loved one are in need of a party planner, send me an email. My rates are reasonable, and I bring a lot of passion.

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