“A dog birthday party? That’s ridiculous!” My 17-year-old nephew Christian exclaimed in response to my answer as to where I had been all day.
It was ridiculous, silly and fun, which is also what made it so special. I thought about the dogma, beliefs, and debate that had been hurled at me over the last few weeks – conversations about salvation, damnation, global warming, politics -- I’ve been assigned an article on Obama Care, for goodness sakes – and the Sweet 16 birthday party for a mascot at a local gift store in Waterbury, Vt. seemed the most carefree and sane thing to do among my list of prospects: It was pure fun!
I was a tag-a-long on an invite my 18-month-old niece Ellie had received. It seems she and my sister-in-law are frequent visitors at The Tiny Acorn gift shop in Waterbury, where Isabel, the 16-year-old birthday girl, reigns. In addition to the array of toys on display, Izzy seems to have attracted my niece’s attention and subsequent devotion. She smothers Izzy with hugs and kisses and thus, earned an invite to her party. Upon learning of the event, I begged an invite. So last Saturday, the four of us – my niece Ellie, my sister-in-law Gretchin, my brother Mark and me – all headed off to The Tiny Acorn where we were greeted by a nicely groomed Izzy in the glass doorway and a sign above announcing her party. Hardly through the door, we were given balloon animals in the shape of dogs and the opportunity to make each a bedazzled collar that could also serve as a bracelet. I wrapped mine around my wrist. Gretchin adorned Ellie’s with an E and I chose a B, since my nieces and nephews all call me Auntie Bee. I noticed yesterday that Ellie’s was still intact, while I somehow managed to lose all my beads, jewels and letters by the end of the day.
We searched for bones and were awarded with a grab bag of goodies when we found one and we even ate bone-shaped sugar cookies as our desert. We also had our faces painted. Gretchin, Ellie and I with flowers, while Mark, after a little coaxing, sported a pirate’s patch. Ellie kept touching the flower on her cheek, smearing it before the paint dried. She spent the rest of the day saying, “I like my flower” even after her mother washed it off. Mark, Gretchin and Ellie all cleaned their faces shortly before returning home while I kept my flower on for the rest of the day, reluctantly washing it off at midnight.
The girl who painted our faces wants to be a writer and is considering attending Champlain College, my brother and sister-in-law’s alma mater, so we exchanged writing tips and college advice.
We finally left the store a couple of hours later after a lunch of grilled hotdogs, Costco lemonade and a promise that we would send photos and that Ellie would return again soon. Before she left, she took a display of tiny folded rain jackets and placed them in a half-circle around Isabel – her gifts for the day. She then lovingly bent down and gave the old girl a hug, a pet, and a kiss.
My nephew may have rolled his eyes when I returned home and people may question why a 46-year-old has let her life go to the dogs when there are more serious issues to attend to, but I am convinced that should we burn in an apocalypse, freeze in a global ice age, collapse under an economic meltdown or survive another 1000 years, when we go to meet our maker it will be the hugs, pets, and kisses that count. We could do worse than dog birthday parties and the wag of a tail.
For more photos from the party check out my personal facebook page.