You Are Invited
By Dorsetta Hale

There is an elaborate invitation on our refrigerator. It’s for the sister of my daughter’s friend’s Quinceanera, the Hispanic celebration of a 15-year-olds budding womanhood. She’s been invited to quite a few of these. Sometimes our whole family has been invited. I guess it’s quite common around here. You can feel like a wedding crasher until someone says, “Hello. You know so and so?” and you say, “No, but her second cousin is friends with my daughter.” Then they say, “Well, you’re almost family. Have some Chile Flautas.” It goes on like this all day and half the night.


There are no waiters in uniforms, no planners with clipboards. The food, the flowers, the decorations, everything, was made or sponsored by family members, and their names proudly take up no less than half a page on the engraved invitations. That’s a lot of pride.


The year 2006 is shaping up to be big for parties, especially birthdays, what with the oldest of the baby boomer generation turning 60 and all. My family alone is booked solid with major events scheduled through June. A huge family reunion is actually going to take place after all these years. A couple of in-laws will earn their masters degrees. A niece will graduate eighth grade. A dear aunt is turning 75 and my uncle will be 80. Together they’ll mark 50 years of marriage. My husband is entering middle age and doesn’t look any different than he did at his ten-year high school reunion where he was one of six male classmates who still had their hair. My mother will finally qualify for bargain matinees at night and ten percent off store discounts. Genetics are on her side also; with her youthful looks she’ll undoubtedly be asked to show some form of identification or at least state her grand daughters maiden name.


Then there are my twins. My daughter will graduate from Oceana, my son, from Terra Nova. Both events are scheduled the same day. Although I always knew the day would come, that doesn’t make it any easier. It’s only February. Graduation day isn’t until June, but I don’t know how in the world I’m going to have energy to host a party after attending two in one day.


As a stay at home mom when they were little, I was in a position to observe what would be the best environment for them to grow and learn. They had that twin thing going on where they knew instinctively when the other one needed them. It was great at home and on the playground, but I knew it wouldn’t be good for them in the classroom. And so they’ve been in separate classrooms since kindergarten, with the exception of one year at Sharp Park Elementary School, just before it closed. Due to low enrollment, same grade classes were combined.


I’d ask, “How was your day?” and Ali would answer, “Drew didn’t eat all his lunch and he traded his sandwich with Juan.” Drew would counter with; “Mrs. Hoffman had to tell Ali to be quiet again during SSR (Silent Sustained Reading).”


I was so happy when things got back to normal and they were separated again. Eventually they were in high school, and Oceana had to cut just about every sports program. We didn’t have much choice. Terra Nova was very big on athletics, which was perfect for our mobile growing boy. Oceana offered academics with a view for his twin sister. This time they were separated geographically, coastal and inland, north and south. It wasn’t too much of a problem. As parents, you find carpools, split Back To School nights and do what you have to do.


Last week before the varsity basketball game between Terra Nova and Oceana, the boys all greeted each other by laughing, shaking hands and hugging. It’s a small town and they’ve played together off and on since they learned the game in elementary school.


I’m probably not the only parent, relative or friend who’ll be attending two high school graduations in Pacifica on the same day. It will be a cause for celebration, but it won’t be easy. People will come from miles away. Ladies makeup won’t look as fresh after hours in the gym, the sun and/or fog. Men will tire of holding their camcorders. Little kids will want their juice.


It’s only February. We have time to prepare. My son will be there for his twin sister’s graduation and she will be there for his. There will be cake afterward.


Copyright 2006, Dorsetta Hale

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