Syd turned 16 a few weeks ago. It was in the middle of CYT camp and the Leadership Summit. We didn't do much to celebrate.
But in our family, 16 is a big deal. We've celebrated with pretty awesome gifts for the other girls' 16th celebrations. There was a surprise visit from a friend we flew in from Cleveland...a laptop...but what to do for Sydni? Although we had no definitive plans, a few things were in the works.
Her dream had always been to go to New York City with her sisters, hoping to see a Broadway show and shop. But Shannon's about to leave for school and Sarah has school and work to consider, so I knew that couldn't happen right now. Instead, I decided to try to organize something for Syd, my mom and I. Plans were made for a whirlwind visit to NYC and tickets to Billy Elliot, but some of that fell through and it just seemed that we wouldn't be able to work it out.
Syd called me last Monday to ask if she could plan a party for Sunday evening. I was on staff retreat; I agreed, asked her to work out the details and she got on it. She made a guest list, invited everybody, planned a menu and a shopping list and promised to clean the house. And everything came together just as planned. Her friends are a great mix of CYT folks, PCC people and PHS friends. The party was a perfect blend.
They ate, they played outside, they played music. They ate some more. They sang "Happy Birthday", and can you imagine a bunch of theatre majors and worship leaders on that chorus? It was brilliant.
I watched them, and I marveled at what marvelous people I know because of my kids. They are funny and smart and quick-witted and kind. They indulge David as he runs around trying to engage with "the big kids". They converse casually and they talk about movie plots and their futures.
They sing. Oh, they sing. They beat on the coffee table to create rhythms. They play guitar, and they pass it around and listen to one another.
They played a worship song, "How He Loves". A whole room full, singing...I felt privileged, as a parent - the odd one out - singing along. Eyes closed, listening and singing - I had an authentic experience of worship as real as anything I encounter in church. I walked to the kitchen and Syd came in a few minutes later. "Only at one of our parties - worship music at my birthday party!" For a moment I thought she was upset. "Are you okay with that?" I asked. Her face lit up. "It's AWEOME!"
It was such a terrific evening. All the kids were here. Dana and Lonnie were here. It felt like family.
Oh, and the struggle to figure out a gift? It came together. We scrapped the plans for the New York trip and went in a different direction.
The shrieks and screams when she opened it were worth every penny. It was, in a word, awesome.
I know, right? I couldn't believe it either. In fact, it wasn't my idea. But I'm happy to share in the credit.
For what it's worth, I love my husband. And Syd loves her stepdad.
For more info on The Best Gift Ever, click here.