I am absolutely thrilled to be standing here before you today, recipient of the She Makes a Difference Award, sponsored by Oxygen and Lean Cuisine’s Single Dinners, the dinners for those who eat lying down.
My name is Rebecca Purdy, and I wasn’t always a great party planner. I know what you’re thinking – but Rebecca, your Rocking Horse the Vote party was legendary, combining the spirit of Christmas with the majesticness of basic civic responsibilities! To this, I say, you are right.
Alas, I did not discover my love of party planning until my daughter Matilda, asked me to throw her a themed party for her eighth birthday. “Excellent,” I said, “This will be the greatest My Pretty Pony party the Alabaman coast has ever seen.” She looked up at me, big brown eyes caked in glitter eye shadow, and she said, “No, Mama, I want a Princess Diana party.”
Now, this was in 1999, so you can imagine my initial, negative reaction. Young Matilda looked at me, barely able to keep her eyelids open under the weight of all that Cover Girl, and says, “Mama, I want a Princess Diana party.”
Now, I knew she was serious, because I have taught all of my girls that if they ask twice for something, they get it.
And so it began. The next few months were a flurry of eBay bids, long hours poring over our family vault of People magazines, and of course, reading piles of Princess Diana fan fiction.
On the day of the party, no one was more excited than I, and my husband Todd had moved out.
The first party game was simple enough – based off the fact that Diana was not named for a full week since she was born female, and could not become the family heir.
To appropriately encapsulate this understandable disappointment, I set a dozen or so rubber duckies in a bin of water, with either the letter “F” or “M” on the bottom. The children would pick a duck, and depending on the outcome, would either eat the beautiful cake I had crafted at Papa Muroney’s Bakery, or watch 10 minutes of Diana’s funeral procession. A simple, fun game, with clear winners and losers.
The second game was based off of Diana’s lifelong struggle with bulimia. This was a lot like bobbing for apples, except when all of the apples had been bobbed, the children would have to stand five feet away as they attempted to throw all of the apples back into the water bucket. The smallest, and most secretive, splash would win a bag of candy. Whether or not those children fully ingested the candy, I can’t be sure.
The final game of the evening consisted of spinning each child around, then having them attempt to cross the party room while their friend’s flashed cameras at them. If they reached the other side, they were able to retrieve their gift bags. If they did not, they would first have to watch 10 minutes of Diana’s funeral procession before grabbing their gifts, which were little baggies stuffed with a miniature Princess Diana Beanie Babies. The big ones turned out to be worth too much.
Well, you may not believe this, but the PTA had a fit. My phone was ringing off the hook, and without Todd to screen my calls for me, my life had become a nightmare. I felt like I was watching those ten minutes of the procession over and over again, with Harry sitting over my shoulder, crying in his Nazi regalia.
I was proud of that party, just as proud as I am of the Rocking Horse the Vote extravaganza, Hot Stoves for Hot Mamas, and Yowza! Community Church, because it highlighted something important that I try to impart to my children – that just because a person has flaws does not mean that they are a bad person. One must accept all of a person, not just the pretty parts that work to ban landmines. Idolization can never be perfect, because all people have spots on their back that they cannot apply sunscreen to.
Thank you for believing in the good in me, She Makes a Difference Award Committee, and for bestowing upon me the perfect amount of award money to keep Purdy Parties stable in these difficult economic times. I look forward to the future, and so does Matilda, despite her destabilizing eye makeup.
Kristina Felske is the founder and chief editor of the Other Otter and a big, big fan of appetizers. http://www.kristinafelske.com // twitter.com/kristinafelske