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Jen’s World: Graduation parties have changed since 1990

April 26, 2018

We’re in the midst of graduation party planning at my house. My older son graduates from high school in just more than six weeks, so apparently it’s time to start planning.

Of course, some of my peers would say it’s beyond time to start planning. Case in point: Last summer I ran into a woman who’d already booked the food truck for her daughter’s 2018 graduation.

“You have to plan ahead or all the trucks are booked!” she said.

I didn’t even know renting food trucks for graduation was a thing.

When I graduated from Lincoln High School in the spring of ’90 (it’s OK, you can do the math), my parents held my party on the evening of graduation — an hour after the ceremony. We had the party at our house, and I’m pretty sure we served ham buns. My grandma made chocolate-covered strawberries, and we had a berry-dotted ice ring in the punch bowl.

I wore my graduation gown, and the house was filled with aunts and cousins and twice-removed relatives sitting on couches and standing against the kitchen counter and playing pool in the basement.

My fourth-grade teacher came, and gave me a big hug and told me she loved me. The Petersons — my grandparents’ best friends — gave me a blue wallet that I used for years. And an ex-boyfriend stopped by in his dad’s big white farm truck to give me a package (Pink Floyd’s The Wall, on CD) that he wrapped himself.

After everyone left, about two hours after the party started, I swapped the gown for jeans and headed to our school’s graduation party — a casino night held at the Elk’s Club. I think it ended at, like, 3 a.m. But instead of going home, I …

… you know what? That’s a story for another day. Like when my kids are older.

Anyway. My point is this: Apparently, seniors DO remember their graduation parties, and also I think these celebrations have changed since 1990.

Because now that I’m on the other end of the party — as the parent and not the graduate — I known people who’ve re-landscaped their entire yards (we’re talking retaining walls and in-ground koi ponds, people) in anticipation of their kids’ graduation parties. I’ve met people who’ve had their houses repainted — inside and out. Who’ve, apparently, rented restaurants on wheels to feed their guests.

And, sure, maybe they just needed an excuse to make upgrades that they wanted to do anyway. But I can tell you right now that my son’s graduation party isn’t going to go down like that. I haven’t even had time to rent a tent for the party, so I’m certainly not going to hire someone to build a gazebo.

Fortunately, Christian’s on board. He’s all about keeping his party small, casual and easy.

Of course, “easy” is relative. We’re having the party at our house, in our backyard. And I’d argue that anytime you invite people over, it’s not entirely easy. Someone’s got to clean behind the toilet, right?

Still, we’re making it as laid-back as we can. We’ll stock a cooler, take my sisters up on their offers to make desserts, and throw out some yard games. I’m thinking beanbags, bocce, and giant Jenga should suffice. (We’ll probably skip my favorite backyard game, which I like to call Messy Twister. I made it up when the kids were little and it’s super fun, but it includes copious amounts of paint and I’m not sure guests would be so responsive.)

So, really, the only thing I have to worry about is the weather. And you better believe I’m worried about the weather because: 1) There’s no way we’re getting our garage clean enough to host people in there (how do people DO that?!); and 2) like I mentioned earlier, we didn’t rent a tent.

So all I’m asking for is a day that’s at least 55 degrees and dry. I don’t care if it’s windy. I don’t care if it’s cloudy. I don’t even care if we have locusts. Bring it on. Just don’t rain on my parade. (P.S. There’s not actually going to be a parade. That’s for people who put all new flooring and drawer pulls in their kitchen for the party.)

And if it all goes south? If the weather is ridiculous and my sisters fall down on the desserts and I can’t find our giant Jenga game?

I’m sure there’ll be a fabulous party we can crash somewhere that weekend, complete with a fancy tent and a food truck.