When we decided to include our new Bagpipe Band friends in our Winter and Summer Solstice celebrations, naturally we made a list that included the people we thought were fun company. In our planning efforts, we compiled the guest list, designed the invitations, developed an extensive Greek menu of heavy hors d'oeuvres, and made sure we had buffet tables and party-ware. We chose good card stock and rubber stamps featuring different whimsical suns and spent a Saturday afternoon to create an intriguing party invitation--few of our intended guests had attended a solstice event before and we wanted to share a memorable family tradition with them. Our Winter party started promptly at 4:23 in the early evening. Sundown. As the sun set, we declined to use any artificial light, using only candlelight throughout the home, including in the bathroom!
Much to our surprise, nearly everyone we invited arrived, and the doorbell rang promptly at 4:20 our most prompt guests arriving first: Ron and Kathy Stark. They have proven to be the most prompt couple we've known over the years. The guests kept coming, including Jim and Jen McHarg, and Fran and Clive Lay. Food and drink were offered, and the house got darker and darker. Just like in our own family when we shared a winter solstice event, we found ourselves all in the kitchen with candlelight ablaze, sharing, eating and drinking around the kitchen table. Overall, it was a nice party, and we enjoyed getting better acquainted with this new small circle of friends that we'd mostly just attended bagpipe events with previously.
One couple was noticeably absent, however, and we wondered why they didn't join us. The next time I saw her I asked about it and Mrs. Midgley remarked that she'd never received an invitation! What? How was this possible? Everyone else did! I was suspicious, and silently questioned her sincerity, though I realize it could have happened.
When it was time to welcome the summer solstice, we dug out our invitation list, and since we were planning an outdoor buffet, were able to add quite a few new names to the list. Regretting the "lost in the mail" invitation to The Midgley family from the past winter, we made sure they would receive one for the Summer Solstice event. After all, the highlight of this summer party was going to be a dramatic flaming cheese dish common in the Greek Cypriot culture of Stephen's family. You may have read about it in a previous blog entry.
Inanycase, determined to make sure there was no oversight in the delivery of this special invitation to the Midgleys, I had it registered and certified so that the recipient would have to sign for it and I would receive a card in the mail showing it had been signed for and accepted. I received the return card, but no R.S.V.P.
But, more to the point, ultimately I was still rather skeptical at Mrs. Midgley's insistence that they'd never received the first invitation last winter, so to press the matter, I chose other venues for the invitation to make sure all the information would be undeniably received.
We went to our local pizza joint and asked for a large clean plain box, and brought it home. In the box we put an enlarged copy of the invite with its pertinent details, cut into a circle to fit the box, and drove 45 minutes to their house and had one of the kids knock on the door, announcing "Pizza Delivery", hand it over and we sped away.
Still no R.S.V.P.
Well, I'll show them.
Several days later, we took the invitation to the office supply store and had them make 100 copies on the brightest neon-colored selections of paper available. With those and staple gun in hand, we repeated the 45 minute drive to their house during the day when they were at work and school and papered their yard, home, trees, mailbox, and garage, with the cheerful reminders about the upcoming event.
No call, no R.S.V.P.
Undaunted, I asked for Stephen's computer skills to make another copy of the original cleverly worded and artistically rendered card stock and have it duplicated on special copy paper that can be used for iron-on transfers. We ironed these transfers on four brand new brightly colored t-shirts. We then went out and purchased a length of rope, a box of clothes pins and a cheap plastic laundry basket. In the wee hours of the night, Stephen and I made yet another trip to their house, and parked down the street, tiptoed through a neighbor's yard and found ourselves stalking the Midgley family of four who were peacefully watching late night television in their den. Avoiding the motion sensitive lighting in their back yard, we strung up the length of rope between two trees, pinned the t-shirts bedizened with the information needed to get them to our very important solstice event, left the laundry basket under the freshly hung 'laundry', and skulked back home, undetected.
Two days later, there was a message on the answering machine from a cheerfully exasperated Mrs. Midgley. "Uncle!" she announced. "Enough already! We got ALL the invitations! No more! We'll see you on Saturday."
Since the summer solstice celebrates the longest day of the year, and daylight is abundant, our outdoor party was lively, well attended, and went long into the night. The Midgley family never showed up.