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October 15, 2013 / Melissa Yuan-Innes

My Year of Yes: What If You Had a Birthday Party, and Nobody Came?

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What I worry about is having a birthday party and nobody comes. It’s like I’m a kid in grade two, sitting by myself at lunch and pretending not to care.

It would be easier for me not to have a party at all.

“Shouldn’t someone else throw you a birthday party?” a friend asked.

Who’s going to do that for me? My misanthropic husband, who thinks hell is other people? No. My two-year-old? I wish. I wanted to have a group birthday party, but one of the people flew to Paris. So. Either I do it, or I have no party.

And for me, having no party is a bit like, if a you have a birthday and no celebration, did you actually have a birthday?

So I threw a party.

And nobody came, except my mother.

Let me back up. Our power cut out from 6 to 10 a.m. Then we had no water. So Matt and his father started crawling around in our basement, trying to fix it before the people with kids were supposed to arrive at 11. My mother showed up from Ottawa with some paella and some socks for my kids.

And I was silently freaking out. We had no running water to drink or boil the corn, no way to wipe down our dining room table or mop the floor, and no way to flush the toilet.

And no guests.

Even my father-in-law said, “Well, I’m going to Ottawa now.”

I considered begging him to stay, but decided that would worsen the humiliation.

I knew a few had to cancel because of illness, and I hadn’t followed up on the rest because I was sick, but…no takers?

Luckily, Julie and her two kids showed up around 12:15. Thank God. Her daughter Ashley had made me the best card, and Julie was way too generous with her gift. Ashley swung around in our indoor hammock, Ryan hung around with my son, and they all fed corn husks to our two bulls and tried our push lawn mower in the rain. They were confused by the lack of other people, but only pointed it out about five times.

 

Marie-Anne brought taffy and snow a few hours later.

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And the rest of the grown-ups (Cynthia, Samson, Jessica, Jason, Carolyn, Steve, Denise, and their families) started pouring in around 5-ish, which I had said was cocktail hour.

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I guess they all wanted cocktails instead of hanging out with screaming children, plus they had to supervise vernisagges, well-drilling, and hockey and silly things like that.

We drank cosmos, ate corn and vegetarian samosas (the best I’ve had since Mahli Sweets! Thanks, Samson!), ate the black forest cake Matt consents to make once a year,

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played with Matt’s double bass,

 

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played on the keyboard, managed to pry the boys off the Playstation, lounged on triangle pillows,

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and bounced on the big ball.

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I tried to make a point of speaking to each of my guests. Usually, I’m just running around like a madwoman, sometimes with a baby on my hip.

So the optimist’s view (the Facebook-friendly take) was this: I had wonderful party filled with people from different spheres of my life: the hospital, yoga, art, and my book club.

The pessimist’s view is: wow. At first, no one showed up except my mother, who was chasing the kids around, trying to make them try on socks.

Both of them are true.

That’s life. Ten thousand joys, ten thousand sorrows.

Happy birthday.

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