Let's Throw A Party!
I would really like to throw a big bash for my father's 80th birthday, though I am getting a bit of resistance from him. He has a large family, Mother is gone, and he seems lonely. I think he would really enjoy a party, though he says not to make a "big fuss" over this milestone. I cannot decide if I should throw the party or do something much smaller. It would certainly be easier to do less. What are your thoughts?
If he is not insistent about avoiding the "big fuss," I say you should do it.
Here is my logic.
Someone who really hates parties is going to send a clear message that they do not want a celebration. So unless it is perfectly clear, there is likely some wiggle room.
If your father has traditionally handled attending events well, he is likely not afraid of being in the spotlight. It is more likely that your father wants to avoid adding to your already busy schedule. Since your father is going to be 80, you are likely still in the workforce and may also be raising children. Assuming that Dad is cognitively aware, he may notice the workload you have and is reluctant to ask any more of you at this time. While many of us try to hide how tired we are, a parent can usually tell when we are not at peace. Your father is going to be quite aware of the signals you are sending, and his response may be tailored to your demeanor.
He may also be slightly uncomfortable saying, "Yes, I want a party." Most grown-ups do not respond that way. First graders do, but adults generally do not. By asking him, you are almost suggesting that he respond with, "That is not necessary," because it isn't.
So what should you do?
I would plan a celebration that you can handle. Secure as much sibling support as you can to plan this party. It can be much more enjoyable to be a part of the planning process than it is to just show up, so get the siblings going. You may even want to include some of the extended family if possible.
Make your party small or large, whatever works for you. Just remember to do what you can without turning yourself into an annoying party planner. Make sure that it is fun for you and is coming from the heart.
I wish you the best.
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