Pie has long been my mother's dessert of choice. The woman is ga-ga for it, and everyone knows it. Frankly, I don't understand pie-lovers...in my book, pie ain't got nothin' on a sweet piece of frosted cake. But, what mama wants, mama gets. So, we decided to throw her a surprise 50th Birthday Pie Social.
Two of my mom's dear friends invited her out for a birthday lunch...leaving my sis, dad and I just over an hour and a half to transform the mangy fallen-leaf covered backyard into a fabulous party-scape. We all fell into our usual roles: Dad, resident muscles and yard trimmer. My sis, food coordinator. Me, fusser of little details no one else cares about...like decor. We usually make a good team that way, except somewhere along the way, my sister and I always get into some type of verbal brawl about where ice cream should be placed, or how the napkins should be arranged. She's the school-marm of practicality, and I the ridiculous goddess of frivolity. The battle of wits is quite epic.
We bought three different types of pies (apple, pumpkin cheesecake and heath) and just kept the pie flowing. Maybe buying them is cheaping out, but I'm playing my "college student" card as I had neither time nor money to buy all the ingredients needed and spend a day cranking them out. My grandmother, who owns some of the sweetest vintage servingware, just happened to have 50 milk glass snack sets--mini-plates with a beverage holder. They were complete perfection, leaving us able to skip the table rentals, since our guests were able to balance both drink and dessert flawlessly.
My best investments of the last few years: 20 yards of polka-dot lace/aqua cotton and a glass beverage server. I cannot count how many backdrops, craft projects and tablecloths I've gotten out of the fabric, and how much I love the way a glass beverage server dresses up a casual backyard party. My decor budget on this party was $20...$7 went to balloons, $4 to pumpkins and $2 to paper to create pie signs and a cheery pennant garland...meaning I finished $7 under budget, and then bought a chai latte to celebrate my rockin' budgeting. The flowers were brought by a friend, and the hay bails were already sitting at my parent's house. Hooray for repurposing!
About 30 of our family and close friends piled into my parent's backyard, lingering around until the last few minutes of the party. The day could not have been more perfect...nearly 80 degrees in October, which is incredible in the Midwest. We lounged about in Adirondack chairs, soaking in the sun and chatting about recent trips and vintage plates. My sweet aunt and her family weren't able to make it to our Wisconsin backyard from Florida, but called to say they were sitting around the table, eating pie to help celebrate, even from miles away. How sweet.
"You forget how many people really care about you, until you see so many of them in one place," my mom said, once all the guests had left. And isn't that true? I've always kept my circle of friends small, because I'm not great at being a social butterfly. There are days in life during which I feel small, overwhelmed and alone. But, I so often forget how many people have been there over the years. People I might not see on a daily basis, but who never forget to cheer me on from the sidelines, wrap me with a giant embrace when we cross paths and have happily been a part of my life's biggest moments.
People who might show up to my 50th b-day party...in 26 years. But note to future party-throwers...I want cake. Lots of it. :)