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Coolest Birthday Party in the World

Josh’s 40th birthday was coming up, and we had nothing planned to celebrate it which was stressing me out.  Josh said he didn’t really want to do anything, but 40 seems like too big a year to mark it with a card and a kiss.  I started throwing out ideas in the car one day a few weeks ago.

“What about a dinner party with our friends.”

“Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm,” responded Josh.

“What about a trip?  We could go somewhere.  Just us or with the kids.”

“We already have travel stuff planned.”

“What about strippers?  Cupcake party at work?  Visit to an art museum?  Community service project?”

“Community service project,” Josh mused.  “That sort of sounds cool.”

I’m going to admit this because I’m not as good a person as Josh, I threw it out there not expecting it to actually pass muster (strippers was also a you-better-not-choose-it option).  But the idea gained traction and invitations were sent out.  About 40 people from various places in Josh’s life all came together to paint the hallways of a transitional housing building.  People brought their kids, taped up the moulding and door frames, painted until everyone’s hair was splattered white, ate cake and pizza, and caught up on what has been happening in each other’s lives.

There are so few times in your life that you get to spend the day with all these unrelated people you love; have them all in one space, seeing them simultaneously.  Josh’s college friend was there — the one who married us — and he brought his kids, only one of whom was alive at the time of our wedding.  She was a tiny thing, dancing at our rehearsal dinner with our niece, and now she is this amazing twelve-year-old who was painting with us.  I remember her bouncing on the bed as a toddler while we planned out the wedding, and here she was — taller than me — painting the spaces I couldn’t reach.

Josh’s best friend from childhood was there along with her daughter, who is our daughter’s best friend.  We call the two girls the Yentas, because they like to just sit around and talk.  They each took a paint roller and covered the same patch of wall for ten minutes while they stood with their heads together, chit chatting.  And then one of them would realize that they needed to move a bit, so they’d shift down a few inches and cover a new swatch of wall space for another ten minutes.  One day the two girls will be grown up with their own children, who will hopefully be friends, and they will be able to say that their grandparents were best friends and they are best friends and now they are starting another generation of friendship.

Both sets of parents were there (I have great shots of my mother teaching the Wolvog how to use an edger).  And co-workers were there.  And friends we’ve known for decades and others for short periods of times.  And about dozen kids who painted or made snack bags for a local shelter.  It turned out to be one of my favourite days ever.

Everyone working in that transitional housing building has known and loved Josh for years.  He is an easy person to love, mostly because the birthday party sums up the sort of person he is.  He has an amazingly large heart, the sort who takes notice of those in need around him and does whatever he can to pitch in.  He doesn’t stand around waiting for change to occur; he rolls up his sleeves and makes it happen.  He’s funny, creative, and literally has the best bum I’ve ever seen on a man.

Happy 40th birthday, chamoodi-ji.  May the next 40 years pass as happily as these last ones; with good friends who have your back and a paint brush, who are willing to follow you on all your good ideas.  I am the luckiest woman in the world that I get to wake up every day with you and fall asleep in your arms at night (okay, so it’s more like I lie in your arms, you fall asleep, I stay awake worrying, and then I finally fall asleep two hours later).  I love you more than I can express with words, bake into a cake, or convey with a kiss; just know that you are deeply, deeply loved.

Massive thank you to Behrend Builders for planning Josh’s birthday celebration, THC for hosting us, the residents of the building who agreeably put up with my son’s 500 “wet paint” signs, and all of our friends and family who attended and worked hard (but who I didn’t picture here because I never asked you if you wanted to be part of a mushy blog post).


1 JustHeather { 02.29.12 at 7:49 am }

Happy belated Birthday Josh!
This is definitely a good mushy post. I love how you spent your 40th birthday.

2 Kathy { 02.29.12 at 9:22 am }

That does sound like a very cool birthday party! Happy 40th to Josh! What an awesome way to celebrate and spend quality time with loved ones!

I loved and could really relate to this part of your post, as I often lie in bed at night like that, after cuddling with my husband who is good at falling asleep quickly:

“I am the luckiest woman in the world that I get to wake up every day with you and fall asleep in your arms at night (okay, so it’s more like I lie in your arms, you fall asleep, I stay awake worrying, and then I finally fall asleep two hours later).”

3 Rebecca { 02.29.12 at 9:49 am }

What an absolutely incredible idea! I love it. And, what an awesome tribute to your husband and your friends and family. Just beautiful.

4 Becky { 02.29.12 at 10:20 am }

Absolutely the coolest birthday ever. I may steal it for my 35th, which will be next year. Happy birthday, Josh!!!

5 Meghan { 02.29.12 at 10:28 am }

Love this idea! What a wonderful way to celebrate someone! Happy birthday Josh!

6 Justine { 02.29.12 at 10:29 am }

Wow. What an awesome way to celebrate being alive! 🙂

7 Justine { 02.29.12 at 10:29 am }

(oh, and because I hit “submit” too quickly … HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JOSH!!!)

8 Josh { 02.29.12 at 11:01 am }

Thanks everyone…and this post is officially my favorite birthday present.

9 Josh { 02.29.12 at 11:06 am }

Oh…and if you want to give me a present too, I’m asking people to make a contribution to Behrend Builders who organize these kinds of projects every day.

10 It Is What It Is { 02.29.12 at 11:32 am }

Such a great way to celebrate a milestone birthday. Happy belated birthday, Josh!

11 HereWeGoAJen { 02.29.12 at 11:41 am }

That is a very cool birthday party. Happy birthday, Josh!

12 loribeth { 02.29.12 at 11:51 am }

What a fabulous idea, & great way to celebrate with family & friends! (And why I am not surprised that you came up with it, Mel??) I’ll bet it made turning 40 a whole lot better. ; ) Happy birthday, Josh!

13 Meredith { 02.29.12 at 12:08 pm }

This makes my heart happy! It’s so awesome that you celebrated your amazing Josh in this wonderful way. He sounds so special and so cherished. Happy birthday Josh!

14 Monica { 02.29.12 at 1:26 pm }

What an incredible idea. Kudos to Josh and everyone who participated. Happy 40th!

15 Peg { 02.29.12 at 2:09 pm }

What an awesome idea and great way to spend time with family and friends. Moreover, what a wonderful gift to the children involved. Happy 4-0 Josh!!

16 S.I.F. { 02.29.12 at 2:31 pm }

That is officially the coolest birthday party I have ever heard of! I love it!

17 Mina { 02.29.12 at 2:43 pm }

Fantastic idea! And brilliant post!
Happy birthday, Josh!
Oh, you two loony kids made my day, honestly! Now go make out or something.

18 a { 02.29.12 at 3:02 pm }

Love it! Happy Birthday Josh!

19 Lori Lavender Luz { 02.29.12 at 3:23 pm }

What a wonderful way to spend a birthday, especially a milestone one.

Although a post about your husband’s strippers would have been interesting, too.

Your kids are looking so grown up! Wish I could have been there with you, eating cookies and painting one area for 10 minutes at at a time while chatting with you.

20 RelaxedNoMore { 02.29.12 at 3:28 pm }

What a great idea for a birthday party! And it sounds like you had so much fun 🙂
Happy birthday, Josh!

21 jjiraffe { 02.29.12 at 3:50 pm }

Happy Birthday Josh! What an amazing way to celebrate such a milestone. The world is a much better place with people like you and Mel in it.

22 KH99 { 02.29.12 at 4:09 pm }

What a great idea, and happy birthday to Josh!

23 Rachel @ Eggs In A Row { 02.29.12 at 5:16 pm }

Ad meah v’esrim!

24 Tigger { 02.29.12 at 5:26 pm }

You brought tears to my eyes, Mel. The depth of the love you and Josh have for each other is just astounding to me. It’s a wonderful thing to see that it still exists in the world we live in.

Happy birthday, Josh! Thank you for BEING the change you wish to see!

25 Summer { 02.29.12 at 6:14 pm }

Happy Birthday, Josh! What a cool idea, Mel! My 40th is later this year and this has inspired me to do something similar!

26 Kimberly { 02.29.12 at 9:34 pm }

I love that celebration, and your words brought tears to me.

27 Baby Smiling In Back Seat { 02.29.12 at 9:46 pm }

Happy Birthday to a true mensch!

28 Kristin { 02.29.12 at 10:41 pm }

Happy Happy Birthday Josh! That sounds like an incredibly cool birthday party.

29 Tireegal { 02.29.12 at 11:27 pm }

You and your husband are both so incredibly cool!! Happy 40th, Josh!

30 Cristy { 03.01.12 at 12:50 am }

That is an amazing party! Happy belated birthday, Josh!

31 Esperanza { 03.01.12 at 1:05 am }

What an amazing idea. I’ll have to file that away for future birthdays of my own!

32 LN { 03.01.12 at 12:24 pm }

It was an honor to be part of it.

33 Emily { 03.01.12 at 12:58 pm }

That sounds like an awesome Party! Happy Birthday Josh!

34 Betty M { 03.01.12 at 2:35 pm }

What a great birthday event – Happy Birthday!

35 Jessie { 03.01.12 at 11:11 pm }

I love this idea!! (Then again, you know me and community service stuff!)

Happy birthday, Josh!!

36 St. Elsewhere { 03.02.12 at 2:14 am }

Happy Happy Birthday, Josh!

37 edenland { 03.02.12 at 7:52 am }

Oh my god this is the seriously coolest fucken birthday party ever. Happy birthday, Josh! I turn 40 next week and have just cancelled my party, feel so relieved.

A part of turning 40 is realising I don’t need to do things I don’t want to do … like, having a massive party at my house and watching everybody get drunk! I’m going to do a community-thing-helpy thing on my blog. Yes I am.

Love your respective gutses, Fords XXX

38 Cherish { 03.03.12 at 10:06 am }

What an awesome birthday party! I love it!

39 Don Bass { 09.05.12 at 3:14 pm }

Shoulda went with the strippers!…..Seriously

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