Even before I learned about Maggie Mason's Mighty Life List, I was a big proponent of grand gestures of love. I threw lavish dinner parties in college for close friends even if I didn't have enough money. I have planned elaborate parties for Usman right down to an expansive menu and an impressive cake for three birthdays in a row. For Jahan's first birthday, I spent weeks working on home-made decorations, center-pieces, and party favors.
I love throwing baby and bridal showers for my girl friends. For me, there is a thrill in planning, and an unmatched satisfaction in Pulling It Off - in other words, executing a grand gesture of love with finesse and perfection.
More often than not, after the high of Pulling It Off has waned and I am sitting slumped on the sofa, the mighty task of picking up remnants of good fun from furniture, wiping it from the carpet, putting it in plastic lunchboxes, over and done with, I think: "Why the hell did I just do this?" I have to be honest. I am seldom rewarded for my grand gestures of love. In fact, the people I have showered this love on in the past, have often decided to simply walk off into the sunset and not even send a thank you note. That makes me crabby, because
1. I can't revel in the afterglow of my accomplishment, self-aggrandizing thoughts, etc., you see, and
2. My family members collect themselves and become a snarly mouth that keeps saying "I told you so" with its tongue sticking out. "Stop expending your energies on people who don't deserve your attention." Blah!
So...late last year I decided to curb my enthusiasm for grand gestures of love. I will collect all my energy and creativity and bring it forth in a burst of excellence for the one or two people who truly deserve to be awarded with a Signature Noor Grand Gesture of Love. The opportunity presented itself on Rebecca's 30th birthday. How can I do justice to what Rebecca has been for me? How do you collect all the love that a person has given you and your family and bottle it up in a beautiful jar and present it back? Here, this is all the love you've given us. I have added a little more for good measure so I can tell you how important you are to our family. Happy birthday. If only there was a magic way to do that. So, I thought and thought and thought some more. She has been a sister to me on every occasion that made me wish for one. She has been a constant support, an honest voice, a reliable presence in our lives. She has taken most of the pictures I have of our family. She took the first picture of Jahan in the hospital and held her for hours so I could take a nap right after she she was born.
She gave Jahan her first lovey, a small pink blanket with an elephant head rattling on one end. She bought Jahan her first set of poetry books.
She opened and is presently the only contributor to Jahan's college fund. There is so much more, which I can't possibly list here. So, how do you create a grand gesture of love for a person whose kindness and affection you can always count on?
The idea struck me with the resounding clarity of a bell chime. 30 Gifts for Rebecca's 30th. That's what I called the project, and began systematically, obsessively, carefully shopping for the items that would be on this list. On the day of the her birthday, she arrived just before lunch as planned. The dining table held a heap of presents - 30 to be exact. I served two appetizers: curried potatoes and carrots with sour cream and spicy corn salsa with tortilla chips. This was followed by the entree, which was a new recipe: Dhaaba Chicken Karahi made with ghee and lots of tomatoes. Dessert was a chocolate mousse cake and chamomile tea. We ended the afternoon with a screening of The King's Speech. All in all, a great day, a Grand Gesture of Love well-deserved by Rebecca and happily executed by yours truly.
|30 Gifts for Rebecca's 30th|
|The first appetizer: curried potatoes and carrots with sour cream.|
|Appetizer Two: Spicy corn salsa and chips|
|Lunch: Saffron rice with butter|
|Lunch: Dhaaba Chicken Karahi|
|The lunch table!|
|Side salad with lunch|