Joseph’s 60th birthday gathering

Early last year I wistfully commented I would like all of our children to be at my husband’s 60th birthday party this year.
In the heat of summer, the next generation began asking questions about when and where we would meet, so they could begin planning vacation time.
In the cool of the fall, assured we would have the party, I began advocating for a coordinated family picture with everyone choosing to wear similar colors.
Intertwined with our holiday plans were menus, decorations and tableware and housing for the out-of-staters expected at the birthday party.
Late in December, I tagged along as our youngest son did his last minute Christmas shopping and discovered a stack of brand name sweat shirts marked down to a third of their original cost. He selected a couple to give. I added others until three hours later we left the store with coordinating shirts for every descendant over 13. A couple days later my husband and I went back and bought long-sleeved shirts for the children under 13 from a half price sales rack.
Assembly line styled we wrapped every shirt. They formed an impressive heap of presents that we stuffed into over-sized shopping bags. Impatiently I counted the days until we could open those presents at my husband’s birthday party.
As I waited I made birthday cake: chocolate cake, yellow cake, Italian cream cake and carrot cake. My husband devised a way to transport them to Indiana intact.
I stocked up on photography supplies, an extra camera or two, the largest package of double A batteries I could find and eight rolls of film in two speeds to use with or without a flash.
Our new Orleans son joined us on a two-day caravan to pick up our youngest son from his apartment in St. Louis. The eight of us made it to Indiana with the cakes in one piece, the shirts still wrapped and our tempers more or less intact.
The party officially began with the signal to tar off the wrapping paper and put on the shirts. It was perfect.
My son used the lessons he learned from his part-time job at a photography studio and arranged us in a reverse triangle. He set delayed timers on three cameras and rushed to pose for every picture. we counted the clicks and flashes to let us know when we could stop smiling. Only one camera refused to understand the rules of delayed flash.
My husband blew out the candles with all the suitable ceremonies. We had to guide him back to the party after he was given the children’s surprise gift: a very nice planer for his workshop.
The next day I splurged and got double prints at the one-hour photo shop. We found one good group picture. I had it duplicated seven times.
I made a mistake and told everyone to take what they wanted of the other pictures: my husband and I arrived home with seven rolls of negatives and very few pictures.
Whether we talk about the party or the pictures, our mission was accomplished. It will take a while to catch up afterward, but it was worth every minute and penny we invested.