Sunday, October 15, 2006


The Composer and the children and I had been planning for this weekend for months. The Composer's father, my beloved father-in-law, turned seventy. We decided we were going to do it up right.

The Composer rented a lodge in the mountains. He sent out invitations to *all* his dad's relatives, around fifty. We planned a menu. We sent out maps. We rented tablecloths and coffeecups. Most especially, the Composer put together an unbelievable film about his father's life. Heartbreaking music, beautiful photographs, interviews with contemporaries and grandchildren, archives from his university, everything.

His dad didn't know anything was coming. Every year we like to have a special birthday dinner for him here at our house. This year, we suggested meeting up in the mountains for a hike first, then going over to their cabin where I would prepare supper. He completely bought it. Even when we led him in the front door of the lodge where his family from all over the country waited, he still thought we were at a visitor's center at a trailhead!

My blessed mother and her husband came up with the kids and me the night before, and got up first thing and started in to work with me. She cooked without stopping from 8 in the morning until about 4. We set the tables--for 44 people.

My friend Carol had made the cake and delivered it to our house the night before--beautiful! Layers and layers of maple butter cake, iced in maple buttercream and sprinkled with chopped pecans.

She and her daughter arrived late in the afternoon to help serve and run the kitchen. Bless them too!

The menu:

•mushrooms stuffed with cream cheese, garlic, and spinach
•mixed greens salad with toasted walnuts, pomegranate seeds, and red pear slices
•French bread and butter

•slow-roasted pork loin in wine and citrus
•Greek potato salad vinaigrette
•sauteed yellow squash and zucchini

•maple cake and vanilla ice cream

We served everyone plated courses at their seats. That was a lot of plates! Clara and Bella and their cousins helped pass cake and fill drinks as well. The mountains outside grew dark; inside was candlelight on dear faces.

After cake was served and everyone had another cup of coffee, we pulled down the huge projection screen (this was the perfect lodge for our purposes!) and the Composer showed his movie. No words to describe it.

Happy Birthday.


Rennae said...

What a truly beautiful gift. Nothing means more than a gift from the heart, even more so when it comes from your family.

Anonymous said...

That was so touching-and such beautiful photos, too. Thank you for sharing it with us.

cathieb said...

What a wonderful blessing you all are.
He will never forget it.

Anonymous said...

What a blessed event! The most touching part is how you and your husband sought to honor your father! I'm sure he was blessed beyond measure (and perhaps overwhelmed) that day! Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

How beautiful!! I am sure that your FIL will never forget how lovely this momentous day was!!!!!

~ Mrs. J.

Paula said...

I'm sure your FIL appreciated all the hard work and love that went in making this day one of the best in his life;--how wonderful!

Chrissy said...

Precious! There is nothing like family.

Jodi said...

Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:32

What a beautiful picture of that verse being actually applied to life. :o) And what lovely family memories, the old ones celebrated and the new ones created.

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

Ahhhh...that makes me miss my mom! You all did a fantastic job of making a memory.

Jenny said...

It all looks marvellous. Well done, you gave your whole family a wonderful day to remember.

Anonymous said...

Anna- I'm addicted to your site, but it feels a little bit like spying since I actually know you. What impressed me most about the party was the way your guests seemed to be really enjoying themselves. We want to see the dvd, and we think you should post the receipe for "schoolhouse mushroom appetizers" and "schoolhouse pork roast" on your site soon.


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