Thursday, August 05, 2010


I grew up on a farm not far from McGregor, ND; and both the town and its church--Zion Lutheran, which I attended while growing up--are celebrating their centennials this upcoming weekend.  So for months we have been planning to return for the celebration, as have my out-of-state sisters Cathy (OR) and Sandy (NE).  Little did I know, until today, that they also have been planning a surprise birthday party for me, which is why they encouraged us to go to Dad's a day early (the centennial events start tomorrow, but they planned the party for this evening)!  Susan was "in on" the party plans and collaborated with my sisters, even utilizing the time that I was in Chicago last month to bake and freeze a bunch of sweet treats to contribute to the spread for the party.

What Susan didn't realize until tonight is that she, too, was a guest of honor for the party!

In January, Susan had a "significant" birthday, turning an age that is evenly divisible by 10.  I will turn that same age next week, and Susan and I will celebrate our wedding anniversary a few days thereafter.  Cathy and Sandy decided to make it a Susan's belated birthday/Kevin's upcoming birthday/Susan and Kevin's upcoming anniversary party . . . but they told Susan only about the "Kevin's birthday" part of that!

It was an ideal time to throw a party, too.  Not only would our entire immediate family be together, but so would many members of our extended family (in order to attend our "hometown's" centennial).  So Cathy and Sandy invited those family members, too, and the party tonight turned out to be an old-fashioned family get-together just like the ones we regularly had while growing up (when aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents would gather for birthdays, anniversaries, church confirmations, high school graduations, etc.).

We left home early this morning in order to maximize the available time to spend with my sisters, whom we don't get to see often.  However, we arrived earlier than my sisters planned for us to get there, so they were in the midst of decorating our dad's garage for the party!  "Surprise!"  Dad has a newly finished three-stall garage in which they had set up numerous tables with chairs and a long table upon which to serve food.  While I ran errands with Dad, Susan and the girls helped with the remainder of the decorating: black streamers, black balloons, birthday banners, "over the hill" tablecloths and table sprinkles, etc.  Just before guests arrived early in the evening, the ladies set out all the food, and the party began!

The all-in-black, over-the-hill theme is ironic since I don't feel the least bit old.  But it made for some cute decorations and gag gifts.

When Susan saw the cake, she knew that she, too, had been "had"!  My stepmom Beverly ordered this cake from Mrs. Wolla, who is famous in the region for being a wonderful cake baker/decorator (and whom I have mentioned before).

 One of the treats that Susan made while I was in Chicago and hid in the freezer until now was this kransekake ["wreath cake"], a Norwegian delicacy made by grinding almonds and using them as a flour for concentric ring cakes that are stacked and held together with a white frosting.  We have had kransekaker before (e.g., at family events, at Sons of Norway events), but this kransekake was definitely the best one I have ever had . . . and it was Susan's first time making one!

Okay, on to the guests:

my mom's brother Herman and his wife Betty

 my mom's sister Lucille (not pictured--and I thought I had gotten photos of everyone!), her daughter Joan, Joan's husband Terry, and their son Clayton (not pictured--I was 2 for 4 with this group)

 my dad's brother Shine and his wife Janet

Shine's son Jeff and his wife Wanda

Shine's son Joel, who built Dad's garage

Dad and his wife Beverly

my sisters Sandy and Cathy (sneaky planners!)

Susan-and-my daughters: Suzanna, Hillary, and Abigail

Beverly's son Dennis and his wife Julie (posing here with Suzanna)

my dad's sister Rose and her husband Elton

my dad's sister Penny

Penny's daughter Brenda

my dad's sister Sharon's son Brad and his son Kjel

my dad's brother Ray and his wife Connie

Ray and Connie's daughter Laura

my dad and his siblings (their sister Sharon is deceased)

Faithful Reader, lest you think that this constitutes my entire extended family, I must state that not everybody could attend.  For one thing, my mom and several of my aunts and uncles are deceased, so it was a melancholy family reunion in that regard.  For another, not everybody could return for the centennial from their homes across the state and country, so they weren't available to pop in for this party, either.  But it was a great turnout nevertheless!  (Also, my second-cousin Stacey and her daughter Megan live next to Dad and Beverly, so they stopped by the party, too; and our daughters and Megan spent much of the day and night playing together at one house or the other.)

My mom's lifelong friend (ever since their school days together as children) Doreen and her husband Floyd are here from WA for the centennial, and Doreen stopped by for a bit!

It was a great night filled with eating, visiting, photographing, and gift opening.  We'll see many of these people again in the next couple days, but we might not have a lot of time to chat with them because they and we will be visiting, too, with all sorts of friends and classmates and neighbors, etc., who also are back for the centennial--so tonight was a terrific "just family" night.  Thank you, everyone who had a hand in planning and carrying out this party and everyone who attended.  It was a happy (early) birthday and anniversary indeed!

1 comment:

  1. And you were going to wait until Friday to join us! I'm glad you didn't! It was fun to help Susan plan your and her party! She let us do much of the ground work so that you wouldn't be suspicious. Luckily for us, it worked out great! Gotcha!