Happy Days

June 8, 2011

Gracious Living Day by DayLast night, our diminished family gathered for dinner. There were only six of us.

We ate leftovers – vegetable soup, salad and French toast. Branka made French toast to sweeten the deal, but it didn’t help much.

We were all tired, hot, grumpy, in fighting mode. Anything anyone said, irritated the rest of the group.

By 9:30 pm, I was so sleepy I couldn’t concentrate on my book. I went to sleep without even trying.

Last week was intense – full of company, excitement, travel and celebrations.

Grandparents stayed with us for two weeks and we spent hours telling stories, visiting, walking, driving, eating, arguing over history and politics.

Last Tuesday, the grandparents, Branka and I, drove eight hours to Illinois to pick up Nicky (my niece) from college. We packed the van with all of Nicky’s college possessions, then turned around Wednesday and drove back east.

The night between was spent in a nasty hotel, located next to heavily utilized train tracks. Every five minutes, a piercing train whistle alerted us to the approaching train. Have you ever seen the movie, “My Cousin Vinnie?” Our hotel was worse. No one slept a wink the entire night.

On Thursday, we all gathered for Sam’s graduation ceremony. Sam went to a large high school and even thought it was a wonderful, emotional evening, sitting through a very long (670 graduates!) ceremony required not a little, but a lot of stamina.

On Friday, I came home from work early, and we threw ourselves into preparations for the graduation party taking place on Saturday. With Sam and his old friend Nick having a party together, we expected more than a hundred people between the two families.

Nick and Sam

Nick and Sam

My biggest fear was that it would rain.

It didn’t rain.

Saturday dawned humid and hot, but it was sunny, fragrant and beautiful.

With lots of people to help, we set up tables in the garden, covered them with white table cloths, then crowned each one with a bouquet of flowers. We filled the ice coolers with a selection of drinks and concealed them in the shadiest corners of the patio.

On one side of the dining room table we arranged platters of cold cuts, salads, cheese and spinach pitas, humus, fruit and more. On the other side were deserts – a huge graduation cake representing the colleges the boys will be attending; a frothy walnut raspberry torte my cousin Natasha made; the kid’s favorite chocolate cracker torte that Mina made; pastries and baklava that Branka spent the previous evening baking.

It was a feast.

Graduation Feast

Graduation Feast

Guests started arriving at two.

Teenagers came into the dining room, piled their plates high with food, then fearlessly went onto the hot (but shady) patio. Older friends and relatives stayed in the shadows of different rooms, while guests with young children migrated in and out.



People ate, talked, joked, played pool in the basement, kicked the soccer ball on the front lawn. Conversations were going on in a number of languages.

Little kids refreshed their hot little hands by dipping them into coolers full of ice.

Everyone said that it was a wonderful party.

And it was.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Joe Holtzman June 16, 2011 at 9:25 pm

That was a memorable day and party! To me, it’s all a haze that seems as if it occurred about 2 years ago…

Keep up the good work, LJ!



Rosanna June 9, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Liliana, your Graduation Buffet table in the dining room is just *so pretty*, i.e., with the flowers and all of everyone’s different, scrumptious foods on that absolutely *gorgeous* white lace tablecloth!! The soft light from the window also makes everything look simply *painterly*, you know…………


Liliana June 9, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Thank you, Rosanna.
It was a good party and we had lots of leftovers!
I hope that you are doing well.


Ana June 8, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Sorry I missed the party – I heard it was great from my parents!

Please pass along my congrats to Sam!


Liliana June 8, 2011 at 1:46 pm

We missed you!

Call when you come to our part of the world and let’s get together.


Alissa June 8, 2011 at 7:20 am

Sounds like a great party! So sorry we missed it!


Liliana June 8, 2011 at 7:34 am

I am sorry you missed it, too, Alissa. Joey would have loved playing with the other kids. We’ll get together later in the summer.

Best of luck with the exciting events in your life! I am keeping my fingers crossed.


Jelena June 8, 2011 at 7:11 am

You didn’t mention the kolo dancing at the very end of the day!


Liliana June 8, 2011 at 7:17 am


The later part of the party is worthy of its very own post.

Thanks for being a part of it all!


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