What Surprise Parties and the Prodigal Son (aehm Daughter) have in Common

I live far away from my family, which most of the time suits me well. I love going ‘home’ and spending quality time with my family and then coming back ‘home’ (here in New York) and mind my own business at my own pace – far faster than anything on a Swiss Autobahn.

Early this summer my mother had a ‘big’ round birthday and we had decided over the Christmas Holiday that it was ‘irresponsible’ to spend the money and ‘made no sense’ for me to visit just for the birthday. And at any rate, my mother said: It’s no big deal.

That changed when my father dropped a line about “the Party”. What party? I think I reserved the (frequent flyer) ticket within 24 hour of that conversation. The days before I was fretting over whether it was going to be perceived well that I had spent “all that money” (time is the issue here, really) to just come for a few days for the birthday and the party. My sister bent over backwards to organize everything at the ‘home’ front so we would have a great family dinner (cooked by her in her kitchen and transferred to my parents house).

When my mother saw me standing in the elevator – the look on her face was beyond priceless. I was holding a huge bowl of potato salad so we couldn’t hug – so I gave HER the huge bowl of potato salad – and we still couldn’t hug. It was clear and evident that the decision to come had been the only right one.

Two days later at “the Party” I was passed around like a prize possession – the ‘pragmatic, practical, reasonable’ daughter that after all had shown up all the way from America for my mother’s birthday. I felt bad for my sister who had so much to do with planning it, keeping it a secret, putting up with me and that big dinner two nights earlier and I got all the glory just for showing up…. thank you, Meta.