Many of us follow the same cycle through life. High School graduation. College graduation. Marriage. Kids. Kids’ high school graduation, college graduation, marriage, kids. It seems to go on forever (particularly some parts). And there are often parties associated with each step.
Interesting thing about those parties. The person who has achieved the milestone thinks the party is about them. I have never gone to a high school graduation party and not seen the graduate disappointed by how few friends showed up.
The graduate thinks the party is to congratulate him for finishing school (and reward him with lots of money). It’s the kid’s first introduction to the idea that we’d really like to get together sometime other than funerals. As a rule, the adults see these parties as a chance to catch up with relatives, friends, neighbors. It’s the reunion they’ve been meaning to put together but never got around to.
It starts with the invitation. Oh look, we got invited to Tony’s graduation party. I can’t believe he’s old enough to be graduating already. He’s Vivian’s son, right? I love that side of the family. They’re always so much fun to be around. Remember Gloria’s wedding? I have to write this down so I don’t forget.
Moves on to the gift. How much should we give? I don’t remember what we gave Amy two years ago. I guess it doesn’t matter. Amy’s my cousin and Tony’s my cousin’s son. Or do you give the same to everyone? Honey, do you remember how much Aunt Viv gave you last year for graduation? Maybe $50? Too much? OK, $25.
Then the accessories: I have to remember to take the pictures of Sheila in Scotland. I don’t think anyone has seen them. And that picture of grandpa I found in the attic. I wonder if Sandy is going to have her genealogy charts there. I guess it’s a good idea, but I forgot to see if I could find great-uncle Earl’s birthplace.
Finally, the day of the party arrives. The graduate has been chatting with his friends. They all say they’ll make an appearance. (The appearance turns out to be 10 minutes after the party ends. Smart kids.)
The first person to arrive is an elderly woman Tony doesn’t recognize. His mother rushes out to greet her and introduces her to Tony. Mom then disappears into the kitchen to finish up the food. Tony gets her a chair and asks how she’s doing. She proceeds to give him a rundown of her health, her neighbors, the weather, and her dead husband.
Finally Tony gets away to greet some other guests. It’s his aunt, uncle, and evil cousin who once tried to drown Tony. Turns out Jack is planning to become a lawyer. The adults leave to let the “kids” remember old times. Tony begins to wonder if anyone will miss him if he goes upstairs.
Some neighbors come by and Tony relaxes with them. His mother makes him get up to greet each person as they arrive. He talks to each for a few minutes. Hello. Thank you for coming. Yes, I’m glad to be out of school. I’m going to Wilderness U to study forestry. Yes it is an unusual major. Yes, there are actually jobs in that field. Begins to wonder why anyone has a graduation party.
There is a good turnout for the party. People are complimenting his mother on the food. Except for the woman who says that she was at a graduation party the weekend before and it was catered.
The usual compliments and stories were told by the guests.
You can also overhear: I can’t believe her mother let her come wearing that. Of course Doris was the same way at that age. Or: Can you believe Eve is still dating him? He doesn’t even have a real job. Well at least he’s better than Jerry, remember him?”
Is that really the last impression you would want to make on your friends before you all go off to college?