My friend's 80th birthday party

I received an invitation in the mail, grey and pink, very pretty: Join me to celebrate my 80th birthday. One of my best friends has gone 80; over the years I have met and heard about many of her friends. This one I have met a few times, and have often heard of her family and friends. I have joined them a couple of times for lunch or afternoon tea at various places in her area, the north east side of Adelaide. The celebration dinner was to be at the Community Centre she frequents.

What can I get her for a present? I had been wracking my brain for an idea for weeks and even though the invitation said no presents, I wanted to take along a small keepsake. When you get an invitation that says no presents, pay your own meal, it usually means, I want to spend my birthday with friends and family, we can meet and talk and catch up. If we can do this my greatest wish would have come true. It is the same thing I enjoyed a few years ago at my 60th birthday. You do, mean no presents but when you get a few it is a joy.

The morning of the dinner I was still undecided, perhaps I will slip out and have a look around the plant shop down the road. I know she is a great gardener. Suddenly the light bulb went off; I will be photographer during the night. It is something I have done quite a few times over the years and enjoy it.

What a great evening, I love to sit and observe people, especially gatherings like this one. Family who are very close, but just don’t get together as often as they would like in this modern world. Hugs and kisses exchanged, grandchildren with love in their eyes sitting close. Sons surprising Mum, turning up from the other side of the country having told her they couldn’t make it. Little sh*t, I think I recall hearing, she was speaking to a huge, six-foot-something son at the time, smiling. Friends who have heard of each other for years, but have never met, exclaiming, when they were introduced the picture they had in their head was not one bit like reality.

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The party area was along one long window looking out onto a wonderful expanse of green, green grass; the late sun, filtering through the trees making it look quite heavenly. The three long tables decorated with sky blue table cloths with mauve, maroon and silver tiny shiny shapes, scattered down the middle. There was three shiny star scattered bottles on each table with balloons, at different heights, floating high toward the ceiling, green, mauve pink and blue. Simple, but it was perfect. While everyone greeted each other, handed over cards and presents; mostly plants and flowers. I took photos of the tables,and a few unnoticed of friends and family.

The birthday cake came out: chocolate, chocolate cake! Yum, with eight of the colourful tall thin candles we see so much these days; very impressive. The singing and photos took a while then the person from the club took it away to cut for dessert. She returned with another cake for the daughter of the family – her birthday is one day this next week. “Happy Birthday” was sung again. Numbers, this time, fizzed and crackled away and then it was whisked away too, I think to be eaten at a later date.

After a great meal, enjoyed by all, the photos were on and it was just so easy. The birthday Queen sat in a chair, by the now dark window. Family and friends gathered around to get a photo of her with them, of their families together, one with Grandma, etc. I even managed to get all the guests in one photo, I took a pic bit further back and did it in three photos and a closer one in four photos, have done it before and has worked out good. Fingers crossed.

Eventually, when most of the guests were gone, her friends were left, looking at presents, talking over each other, smiling and laughing. I spent an enjoyable quiet time sitting, watching half a dozen women enjoying each other’s company, as they have for, I would imagine, quite a good number of years and will do quite a while into the future.


Have you been to a birthday party recently? What was it like and what did you get the birthday boy/girl?