Spring celebrations different, but fun, this year

Published 9:13 am Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Today’s Special

May brings reason to celebrate, though differently in 2020…

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First there was Mack’s graduation.  After completing their kindergarten year at home, the young students at Jackson Christian School were honored in spite of the circumstances with the school’s first ever drive-around graduation parade.

DIL Laura invited her parents and DW and me to ride in the parade with she and Mack…it was one vehicle per honoree. Parents, family and friends decorated their rides with pictures, banners, flags, signs and messages of congratulations.  The graduates wearing their caps and gowns took their places on vehicle roof tops (with someone inside holding tightly to legs dangling through sunroofs) of their decorated “parade floats” or standing up and (securely) hanging out the windows.

The route took them down the drive beside the elementary school, where months before parents had dropped them off and picked them up.  This day posters lined the way and ushered in the graduates.  “Pomp and Circumstance” was all that was missing.

DW drove Laura’s car in line with the others around the school campus.  All of their teachers, staff from the 3-year old program through kindergarten and the principal lined the sidewalk. They were all there cheering, waving pom-poms, holding posters and giving shout outs to the students as the cars came around. And in the parking lot were more well-wishers and family.

On the second loop around each car stopped for a picture and recognition of the happy little graduate announced by a local television news anchor. Here they received their diplomas, scrapbooks, and a quick…and from a safe distance…picture with their teacher.

As we turned to exit the parade the first-grade teachers (and my favorite part of the parade) stood holding a banner that read, “welcome to first grade!” Kindergarten graduation was in the books and I dare say that not one of the students ever realized what they missed by not having a “ceremony”.

Next, a “Happy Birthday!” So how do you celebrate a 6-year’s old birthday while in social isolation?  You take the party to the people! Sweet little Emma Kate had butterflies, she said, in her stomach as she with her parents, little sister and baby brother left home that morning.

She did not know what was about to happen but the video belied her excitement mixed with anticipation and a touch of apprehension. Our pretty little first granddaughter was about to be celebrated with a drive-around birthday party.  Her mom Kathleen, the party planner enlisted friends and family to join in…12 stops in 3 hours.

Every stop was a surprise!  Emma Kate, wearing her “It’s my birthday” shirt, stepped out of the min-van at each house to be greeted with birthday wishes by friends and classmates, her kindergarten teacher and several of her favorite people from church.

And what made this so special is that because of social isolation she had not seen all of these special people in nearly two months making this a happy reunion, too. Kathleen planned on no more than five minutes at each stop and had birthday favors for all.  Along the party route the party greeters wore birthday hats and held hand painted birthday posters with wishes for Emma Kate and Kathleen snapped pictures for a birthday scrapbook.  And on a drive-by through her Olive Branch grandparents’ neighborhood she was surprised by yet another birthday sign. One more stop and she was greeted by a birthday-hat-wearing pooch and four little ducks a’swimming. The birthday girl was beside herself! But it wasn’t over.

Meanwhile back at the house DW and I waited with cousins and an aunt and uncle. Her other grandparents brought their sign for the driveway and we set up for the grand finale… chick-fil-A and cake with presents. Emma Kate proclaimed it the best day ever….  And I dare say, she never missed a minute of not having a traditional birthday party.

Social distancing and limiting numbers preempted our celebration of Laura’s (40th) March birthday, don’t tell her I told you, but this weekend it’s going to happen. That’s one you can’t let get by without making a big deal!  And we’ll wish a happy birthday to Zachary, too.

We’ll share his special day and surround him with birthday wishes and love.  And if either would rather have a drive-by party we’ll load them up in back of the truck and take a loop around the neighborhood…. I’ll provide the party hats.

Recipe of the Week

Veggie Bites

Still good after all these years.

1 large package crescent rolls (not low fat)

1 small package crescent rolls

1 egg white (optional)

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened

⅓ cup mayonnaise

1 package dry Ranch dressing mix

TOPPINGS:  finely chopped broccoli, carrots, green onion, grated cheddar cheese

Place crescent roll dough on a jelly roll pan, press in place and pinch seams together until smooth and the bottom of the pan is covered.  Lightly brush the dough with the egg white.  Bake following directions for crescent rolls.  Cool.  Thoroughly blend cream cheese, mayo and dry Ranch mix. Spread over cooled crust. Sprinkle any amount of the toppings over the filling. Slice in appetizer sized pieces or in 12 portions to serve as a main dish.