I have a habit. It is a habit of never having expectations. I do look forward to things, but I don't delight in the looking forward. It is rather an intellectual exercise to put me in the right frame of mind, but I never fantasize about the future event, and I never dwell on the expectation.
On my way home from work yesterday I bought some onion rings at the loca McDonald's (we finally got onion rings!) as a snack to tide me over till dinner.
I then relaxed in front of the TV a bit with my onion rings, then started getting myself ready for the party.
I managed to shave my legs cleanly and without any nicks.
I found a spare pair of shoes in case my feet got too tired in my lovely red ones (with 3" heels).
I did my hair and my make-up without frustration or mistakes.
My dress fit perfectly and had shrunk a tad in the wash, so it came exactly to the middle of my knees, not right below them, cutting my legs at their narrowest point, which was flattering.
I left home on time, and arrived at my own anniversary party, after a joyful walk, with all of my thoughts focused on the happy event to come.
I caught myself breaking a life-long habit doing that: Dwelling on the evening, feeling utterly elated about it and not dampening my own spirits (in order not to be disappointed) at all.
I told myself that it was time I could expect a happy ending to anything, that it was safe for me to look forward to the party without any worry or skepticism.
And I was right to do so.
The dinner, the party, the evening was a huge success. I can't say it was my doing alone, though I'll never really know. After all, I did invite these specific people, and I went around hugging each one and thanking each for coming to my party. (Can't remember others doing that, come to think of it.)
The way these things go down in Norway, there are some speeches interspersed, usually between the main course and dessert (we had a three-course meal), throughout. Also a bit of entertainment, in the form of my co-workers singing a couple of songs they'd written themselves in my honor. And everyone at the table also sang songs: A welcome song, a finishing song, and the company song (yes, we have a company song and I've always liked it).
We sat at the table for about three hours. Even for an occassion like this, that's a long time to be seated. But nobody minded. (The table was set with a Norwegian and an American flag. Very sweet.)
Some guests told jokes. The food came and went on schedule. There was so much talk and laughter - and toasting me - and I noticed no one seemed left out. Everyone was talking to someone around the table. There was a lot of laughter.
My own role in all of this was to just relax. Receive.
I had to work my way through the appetizer and the main course before I was finally able to wrap my brain around the fact that this party, this celebration was because of me, was because I had been in the company all of 25 years. Little ol' Keera was the guest of honor, the reason for a big party.Wow.
Actually, I'm still having a bit of trouble grasping that.
My only planned contribution was to give a thank you-speech. So after the songs, the gifts and the speeches (and what lovely songs, gifts and speeches!) had been delivered, it was my turn to stand up and say a few words.
My only other intention for the evening was to include everyone in my celebration. To leave no guests left out.
I succeeded hugely and accidentally with my deaf co-worker.
My initial thank you-speeches in my head were long-winded and unfocused. I have virtually no experience in public speaking, so I had to think of a way of keeping my speech short and to the point.
I ended up printing short sentences on large sheets of paper, intending my speech to be a silent movie, that my deaf co-worker could also enjoy.
At the party, it turned out not to be silent. I stood at one end of the long table for my speech, holding up the sheets, and my co-worker impulsivly started both signing and reading out loud what I had written. It is probably one of the most unusual thank you-speeches ever, but it went over very well.
I never once looked at my watch. By the time we'd had coffee and cake and cognac, and had danced a while, I found myself left with four guests. I shared a taxi with three of them, and let myself in a little after 2 am.
Not a single thing went wrong, nobody was unhappy or bored, everybody told me what a lovely party it was, and how happy they were to be there.
The only thing I don't know is what my cake looked like. My guests had already dug into it by the time I made it to the lounge where it was served.
All of my expectations of having a wonderful time, were met.
Over NOK 2 000 in cash collected among the guests; flowers and a gift certificate for NOK 8 000 from the company; a book of poetry read from by a former co-worker who used it in a sweet speech about what the letters in my first name stand for; a gorgeous hand-made quilted "throw" with a dedication on the back, delivered with a touching speech by a former co-worker (moved me close to tears). My boss gave a me a lovely speech and I hope I can get a copy of it Monday. It had some positive surprises; either that, or my memory's going.