It was a successful affair! We had achieved the desired outcome!
My parents had invited close relatives and friends, and had wanted to keep the affair not-to-big. So naturally the guest list was crafted by them. Seatings were also generally determined by them, as sometimes one has to try and please as many as possible and diplomatically seat various folks together or apart.
So anyway, whatever brought about the inspiration, my niece took it upon herself to add more activities and significance to the event- she had wanted to give her grandparents a surprise gift. She thought to create a photo album, chronicling from the days my parents dated, to their wedding, to when the kids (us) were born, and to when their generation was born. So there were lots of baby photos that still bring laughters today! She then got everyone of us to write a greeting / message of whatever we wanted to say to my parents.
Me and my siblings usually communicate via emails; like a mailing list, when we have something to collectively discuss. Here was no different, only that the nieces and nephews were also roped in; in discussing this, the program for the evening, and also all the planning leading up to it.
This latter phase largely revolved around what to get as doorgift for the guests. The criteria was that it had to be something that the guests won’t be throwing away very easily, not something that is left at the bottom of the drawer, something that can serve as a reminder of the event later on, and of course meaningful. So, that ruled out chocolates of even the best quality; cakes, for the same reason; Chinese tea; photoframes, cos, well it just didn’t jive well with anyone.
What we eventually settled was a pair of chopsticks, and Chinese teacup set.
In this pic, the gift looked like it does above with the chopsticks tied to the box, which contains the teacup.
After the party / the next morning, while recapping all the fun that was had by all, mum was looking at this doorgift. No, she / they didn’t know anything about this surprise either!
She shared a useful comment for the ethnic Chinese among us.
It would have been more meaningful if it were a rice bowl, instead of the cup, because a chopsticks+rice bowl combo is a more complete symbol for such an occasion. Since the occasion was to celebrate their 50th anniversary, as well as an early 70th birthday for my mum (it’s actually in the middle of the year), the combo would be symbolic of the hosts also wishing that their guests would also eat-well into their later age.
While mum’s birthday is later in the year, their anniversary apparently is spot on the date! It was also good that we did it early ‘cos some of these nieces and nephews have to leave for / go back to uni pretty soon.
The dinner party program also included a surprise slideshow presentation. In preparing for the photo album, my brother made copies (more like photographed the photos) of the nostalgic moments in their lives, and put together a slideshow with a similar chronicle theme to the album, but for all the guests to see.
That was a big feature of the evening, everyone’s eyes were glued to the screens! Friends who knew my parents even more than a decade ago were keenly watching the slideshow of my parents in their early 20’s and 30’s. Relatives relived the old days, my nieces and nephews laughing their heads off at kid photos of their parents.
But most importantly, my parents too were saying “Hey, that was when… ” and “Oh dear! Where did you get that from!?” They had a good time watching the whole 35min slideshow.
The nieces and nephews too had a series of speeches all planned out. In all, all of the grandkids present did something. Well wishes, toasts, and a presentation of 2 calligraphy scrolls handwritten by this organiser-niece, no less. The last of the grandkids’ surprise was this photo album mentioned earlier; a few of them slaved over it about 2 weeks before the event.
All the grandkids had a great time, too. All helped out in one way or another; even Caitlin accompanied me on stage when the hosts’ sons were up there welcoming the guests and other speaking ocassions.
Dr Pixie, being the oldest and de facto leader of my generation, summed it up nicely in her email today:
On a final note – the parents are very very very happy with the effort put into the Feb 14th dinner. Thats what parents live for – the time and effort by their children & grandchildren. The evidently wonderful camaderie enjoyed by the grandkids captured so well in the photos is so heart-warming; they have never ever quarrelled, with love and humility all round ; there isnt the slightest feeling of envy, jealousy, anger nor one-upmanship amongst this lot – this can teach us adults so many lessons.
Kudos, guys, for a job well done! All except Caleb, who was gladly snoozing through the whole event. He had to be taken out of his stroller / woken for these family shots, which while he thought it was very rude of the adults to disturb his sleep, we couldnt’ help but laugh at him though, trying to either stay awake or stay asleep, and stay balanced!
Oh yeah, much later that night, I thought I was the last to go to bed (we crashed at my parent’s place) I caught my father enjoying the photo album, in his fave seat, slowly flipping the pages and reading every single word…. Hear that, Mdm Organiser?