The Great 8

The final works of art So I had a little birthday party this weekend. My birthday isn't technically for another three months but I threw a party anyway for a couple of reasons. First, we always have a party in the summer and this was as good an excuse to throw one as any. Secondly, I've never enjoyed the fact that I have to celebrate my birthday in winter. Even a California "winter." The weather is unpredictable by Southern California standards and in Minnesota it was always cold and gray. It also feels like the sun sets at noon, making most of the day seem dark and depressing. The third reason for the early party is that this year's birthday is a big one. My 40th. I decided it was better to come to 40, cheering and laughing my butt off rather than sulkily waiting for it to come to me. HELLO 40! HERE I AM!! CAN YOU HANDLE THIS?!!

I'll post more about the overall party later, but I wanted to immediately write about one specific aspect of it. Every party Emmett and I throw has a special hook. Whether it's the fill-in-the-blank Irish toasts game for our "Celtic Christmas" party or the guess-the-famous-Minnesotan quiz for our "Minnesota in California" party, we're big on guest participation and always appreciate the willingness (or seeming willingness) of our friends to go with whatever wacky idea we've come up with. Our omnipresent specialty drinks probably help facilitate said willingness, but we'll take it any way we can get it because in the end, well, everyone has fun. And that's what it's really all about.

This party was no different. In the invite, I told people to bring something that represented "40" to them but I did not tell them what they were going to do with it. After everyone arrived, I gathered them around a big table, put blank canvases, paints, glue, scissors, papers, trinkets, and other art supplies in front of them, and told them to collage with the theme of "40" as inspiration.

And you know what? Not one person said, "I can't do this. I'm not creative." Not one. People just picked up brushes, rummaged through papers and magazines, started cutting and drawing and arranging, and dove head first into their 5-year-old Free-to-Be selves.

By the end of the evening, I had eight of the best birthday gifts a newly minted 40-year-old could ask for.

Getting started

Hard at work


Rob's final piece

Nan's final piece

Bill with his collage

Bill's final piece

Bill's poem

Kelly's final piece

Arty and Tamra

Arty and Tamra's final piece

Angie and JD's final piece


Emmett's final piece

Emmett's final piece - under the GO

Barb's final piece

Barb's final piece

I will be nailing the individual collages together to create one large piece of art (see photo at the top of this post) which I will call, "The Great 8." It will be hung in our dinning room where it will be a lovely, constant reminder of the wonderful friends I have and the most beautiful evening we spent together ushering in my 40th year!

Do I have the coolest friends or what?!!