As is her style, my sister in-law Melissa celebrated her 40th birthday with grace, gusto and ten pounds of green beans.
Melissa’s Racing to 40, a Kentucky Derby themed birthday bash, included everything Churchill Downs has to offer — mint juleps, crazy hats, and sweet three-year olds — and plenty that it doesn’t — a bounce house and flame throwing magician.
In the center of it all, calmly roamed Melissa, a party planner extraordinaire.
Melissa and her friends have raised more than $4,000 for their neighborhood grade school this year alone by throwing cool themed parties for the parents, an ingenious idea I wish had been around when we were raising small children and frantically purchasing wrapping paper, candy and fruit.
With all of that experience, when it came time for Melissa to hit the big 4-0, she knew exactly how she wanted to spend her day — in the midst of family, friends and a giant party.
In the weeks leading up to the bash, Melissa must have worked feverishly — the Melissa-made food included pecan pies, biscuits, macaroni and cheese, and southern green beans. She also whipped up an impressive array of decorations and who knows what deal she made with the Big Guy to score a perfect sunny day.
Like all excellent hostesses, though, Melissa managed to enjoy her own party. She easily greeted guests, grinned under her enormous hat, and circulated smoothly among her 120 guests.
For my next milestone birthday, I’m calling Melissa.
Clearly, she knows the best way to mark a birthday is to celebrate life.