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Graduation Parties

A photo of Nancy

This is a great place to retire. It’s also a great place to graduate from High School!

This town has some MAJOR traditions attached to the life-changing event called graduation.

Parties, cards, checks and food seem to be the main ingredients. Prior to all of this there seems to be much pre-party preparation.

Senior Pictures: Usually taken before school starts in the fall. Many changes of outfits and many poses. Sometimes even some poses including BFF – their best friends forever.

Invitations: Photo invitations designed and printed. These are kind of like a glorified photo Christmas card. You wouldn’t want your invitation to be like anyone else’s, and you have to choose your font, your poses – one big and some small ones, and select the gummed return address label with the graduate’s name.

Video: A video including photos from the graduate’s life up to this point. These remind me of the ones shown at funerals – only much shorter! How involved the production depends on the time and the software available.

Venue: It’s kind of like a wedding reception. Will it be at their home? Their yard? Or will they go together with other graduates that have been close friends since grade school and rent a hall?

Decorations: Now, the school colors don’t seem to be the thing to do. The one we went to last year was three girls and one boy who had been friends and their parents were friends forever, too. They chose four colors of tablecloths, napkins and flowers – like turquoise, hot pink, neon green and yellow. Wow! I don’t think the moms had on color-coordinated dresses, but they may have.

Display: A table is set up with all the graduate’s honors and awards and a bulletin board with favorite photos. Also scrapbooks of varying intricacies. This way you can relive their sports/drama/speech/scholastic/cheerleader/dance/band/chorus careers and learn about the scholarships they have been awarded.

Timing: There are two weekends of graduation – the public and the Catholic schools are on consecutive weekends. That way you can go to more parties, and the out of town families are here for the event.

Menu: Now you may expect that “Mom” would make all the food. Not usually the case. Dad or Uncle will BBQ some beef or make some rib steak sandwiches on the grill. This is beef country, and the main entrée is always beef. One of the parties last year had potato and macaroni salad from the caterer here in town, and one party had these dishes in what was obviously all of the aunties’ and cousins’ biggest Tupperware containers. Grandma may make “horns” (These are the butterhorn or crescent yeast rolls) or they may settle for regular buns from the grocery store. A fruit tray, a veggie tray and sheet cake round out the menu. There are coolers full of beer and soda. And there is always too much food. My neighbors are always looking me up to share leftovers with me when they are involved with such an event.

Guest List: Now this was the topic of conversation at coffee this morning. One friend said, “If you have driven onto their place, you get an invitation.” Another said, “Every child I taught in 2nd grade invites me.” Tales were told of the grocer getting invitations because the “family shopped there.” Or the eye doctor who sold them their glasses, and they never saw them any other time. The hospital administrator receives tons of invitation. Were they born in “his” hospital? And on and on. Because we are new in town, we only were invited to 2 parties last year – co-workers of husband. This year we've only got one invite so far – our neighbor. So, we aren’t on the radar as soft touch for a check. But, seriously, some people get invited to many, many parties and just go from party to party all weekend for 2 weekends. They don’t want to offend anyone by making choices of which to attend.

Gifts: I knew I should take a card, but I wasn’t sure whether to take a gift or a check. My friend said, “Stick a check in the card and go.” So I made out a check for $20, bought a card for $2.59, combed my hair and put on my lipstick and went. But this could get a little pricey when I know more people ...

I’m glad people mark life’s milestones. Family and friends gather to celebrate and launch their new “adult.” But I can’t help but wonder where it’s going from here. They had a party when they were baptized, for first communion, for grade school or junior high graduation, and for confirmation. Then this big blow-out for graduation. Will they have to top it for a wedding reception?? What about College Graduation? Events for children just get bigger and more complicated.

But like I said, This is a GREAT place to graduate from high school, and I hope I get invited to some more parties; that way I won’t need to cook!