For seven years now, Dan and I have hosted an annual Mardi Gras party. It started when Ali made the decision to go to Tulane for college and Hurricane Katrina decided to make her freshman year one for the record books. A city that we had only recently been introduced to, became a closely held cause. This was a place that our daughter had chosen to live in and learn in. When she returned to New Orleans after spending a semester back in her hometown, we showed our support in a way that we have come to very much enjoy. We planned a party.
I can’t remember every specific over the years, but I do know that there are staples. There are red beans and rice, and there are muffalettas. There is Dan’s homemade beer and there are usually Hurricanes. There are beads, and there is a designated charity. The first year, we asked attendees to consider dropping a donation in the bowl that we then donated to Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans. One year we supported an effort to rebuild a football field at a school that was devastated by Katrina. This year’s cause was near and dear. Now that Ali is in her second year of teaching elementary school, we asked her what her school or classroom might need. She suggested that we get books for her students. There are books that her kids have in the classroom, but many of her students do not have their own books at home.
I have been to my fair share of charity events, but I must say that this little effort of ours is the one that warms my heart most. Over the course of the evening, about 80 people came into our house. Each got to see some old friends or meet some new ones.
The collection of people always charms me. Work folks, neighbors, relatives, book club members, and people who have been in our lives forever, just seem to fit so well. It becomes apparent that there really isn’t much that needs to happen to make people happy. The food and drink were enjoyed, for sure, but what was truly valued was the time spent in the company of others. And when the night was over, we had a pile of children’s books, promises for more, and $470 to spend at the bookshop. Happy days for Andrew Wilson Charter kids!
Because of Dan’s beer-making hobby, having gatherings throughout the year is tantamount to necessity. Most gatherings are not as planned as the Mardi Gras one, but each has its own specialness. Knowing myself as I do, I would have never thought that I would be the kind of person who would throw parties for the heck of it, but that is exactly who I have become. We spend so much time with the parts of our lives that are structured and necessary. Adding being social to our lives wherever and whenever we can, makes us richer!