Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.

Let’s Party!



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#1 Son’s birthday is coming soon, and that got me thinking about Birthday Parties We Have Known.

These days, parents all seem to be trying to outdo each other in the party department. A big deal for our boys was once going to the pizza place where they have the game room and dancing critters, although it petrified our youngest.

Now a party isn’t a party unless you take the kids to a place where they can shoot each other with paint balls or hire a limo, fill it with kids and drive around the Big City. (No matter how many kids there are, when they start serving champagne on those trips, I’m in!)

We had lots of birthday parties over the years. Parties where we took the entire soccer team out for pizza and a movie. Theme parties, where all the kids came dressed like a cowboy. We even had slumber parties for which I’d rent several movies for the boys to watch and hopefully doze off–and no one got any sleep.

But my favorite party, the party that will live forever in the soft place of my heart, was one year when my youngest son was turning three or four.

We had been in Pryor Creek for a couple of years, and Brad went to

a babysitter while I worked at our pharmacy. Bradley’s best friend in the world–Little Brad–went there, too. (Little Brad was a year younger, thus the “Little”.) The Brads liked each other so much, for a while they thought they were brothers.

So it was early in April and our Brad’s birthday rolled around. We sent out invitations, and the morning of the party–which was going to be a cake, ice cream and games–rolled around and I heard from one invitee’s mom after the other–“We can’t come, we’re going to be out of town.”

–“We can’t come, our kids throwing up . . . ”

–“We can’t come, we have an appointment.”

Even his little female buddy had to be out-of-town and just came by as they left to bring him a gift.

I was heart-broken. Here my sweet little boy was turning four and he was going to have only one guest at his party. At least his best buddy would be there, but it still hurt.

So, like any self-respecting Spess Girl, I called Mama. I never was much of a whiner, but when something that sad happens, what else can you do?

Mom was as upset about it as I was. “What time’s the party?”

Surprised by the question, I told her. Then she said something that will always live in my heart. “See you in a little bit.”

It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning (say that five times fast) in early April. Everyone in the world has something planned for that kind of day, and I’m sure Mama did, too, but she didn’t hesitate. She just called all her C-Town kids and told them to dress her grandchildren. She went to the drugstore, bought several gifts and had them wrapped. Then she picked up every grandchild she had in C-Town and headed for Pryor Creek, an hour and a half away.

When they came in the door, I nearly cried. Brad had his best friends in the world surrounding him (cousins are friends, too, in our family) and his best buddy, Little Brad. He opened one present after another. Lincoln logs, pickup sticks, puzzles, Tinker Toys–all the great kids’ toys.

And he had Grandmommie with him–the best present of all.

Someday, when I have grandchildren, and I keep praying that I will (hinting here, kids!) I hope I can be at least half as great a grandmommie as my mama was. I had a wonderful example, and I plan to give it my best shot.

So–what’s your favorite kind of party for kids? (Yours, your kids or grandkids.) Expensive and glorious or cake, ice cream and home? I’m really curious to know.

Author: Susan Shay

For as long as I can remember, I've loved two things--reading and people--and that led me to become a writer. Many of my stories are set in Small Town Worlds. I'm a wife, mother, sibling and an aunt. I have a deep faith in God, and an exciting life in Christ. Maybe I shouldn't be (after all, he's God!) but I'm constantly amazed at the things He's up to. :)

14 thoughts on “Let’s Party!

  1. You always make me cry! I miss Mama!

  2. I teared up too! Grandmommy was so special to us all. Did I get to come to the birthday party? Brad and I were always so close – I hope I was there!

    • Yes, I think you were there, Ashley. I need to see if I can find the pictures from that party. Would have been nice if I’d found them before I wrote this. LOL.
      I loved how close you guys were. Still do!

  3. I knew someone who made such a huge production of her kids’ birthday parties that they went into debt and she lost friends over them. Sheesh.

    I don’t remember birthday parties growing up. We weren’t really party people, I guess. We lived away from Oklahoma the first 16 years of the kiddo’s life, so we only got to have one party with family — and that was for a “half” birthday. Occasionally he had regular parties, but often he chose to do something special with just a few close friends instead of a party. Once we met Mom, my sister and my nieces in Orlando for a week at DisneyWorld. He loved that one.

    • A week at DisneyWorld? #1 would have thought he was in Heaven! LOL.
      We didn’t have parties every year growing up, either. Too many kids, I guess.
      Something special with a few friends was a party at our house. Skating or a movie, something like that.
      But we never went to Orlando. I’m impressed!

  4. I guess my favorite would be the last one she threw for me. It was the summer before we moved to Wichita and she planned a surprise party by the pool with friends and family. She always did whatever it took to make us feel special. I am trying to follow in her footsteps with my own.

  5. Oh, that brought tears to my eyes! How utterly sweet of your mom! Some people make it hard to live up to what they have accomplished. I could only wish! I love their examples though. It gives you ideas and footsteps to follow.

    • She was great, Junebug. She never had a grandmother, so she wanted to be the best she possibly could.
      I can’t even come close to being the woman she was, but I have a couple of sisters who come really close.
      Her unconditional love for her family is the first thing I try for. And you’re right, their examples are fantastic!
      Your mom is beautiful and, while I don’t know her, knowing you I realize how wonderful she must be. Next time you see her, kiss her for me.
      Thanks for coming by. Gotta go cry now. 😉

  6. Susan, Yes, your Mother was wonderful! She made being a great mother look so easy, and all you kids are a fine example of what a Mother’s love can do to mold wonderful children into great adults.

    My Mother only lived to see her first grandchild. One of my favorite stories is when she sent a used post-marked envelope down to Eddie via my brother, Ken–“express messenger” stating “Eddie, Why don’t you bring your mother & come up & visit me?” Of course, Judy walked up with the baby to see her as it was only 1-1/2 blocks away!

    I know you will always hold loving memories of your Mom in your heart ~ as you should. Still can see her beautiful eyes and gorgeous smile. Bet she is smiling down on all of you from Heaven 🙂

    • Oh, Sharon. What a sweet memory of your mama. I think the Mitchell girls got some good lessons on mothering, too.
      I know our mamas are watching over us from Heaven. They’re our cloud of witnesses!
      Thanks for sharing that sweet memory!

  7. Just read this Susan, what a sweet story! Yes, she was always smiling & most friendly to all.

    • Isn’t that a great way to be remembered? She taught us all kinds of wonderful things–like “Do unto others . . .” and “Don’t get mad or even. Heap feiry coals on their heads by praying for them.” All kinds of good stuff. 😉

I'm so glad you dropped by my Small Town World! Hope you'll leave a comment. I really enjoy hearing from you!

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