Love like you'll never be hurt,
Sing like there's nobody listening,
And live like it's heaven on earth.
My son, who is an Eagle Scout, joined Boy Scouts when he was thirteen years old. Through the years that followed, he took leadership classes, went on campouts and even learned to scuba dive. Most of his dear friends and their younger brothers were also involved, and, slowly but surely, we watched almost all the boys attain the rank of Eagle Scout. Our dear friend Douglas is the newest in our group to achieve this prestigious rank. His parents threw him a party after the Eagle Scout ceremony complete with a delicious BBQ and a dance. Douglas is a veteran of our Civil War Balls and usually attends looking quite handsome in his tuxedo. But there was just something extra special about seeing him dance the Virginia Reel in his Boy Scout Uniform – with his very proud mother.
I’ve organized and orchestrated a lot of big events in my life including Grand Civil War Balls for two to three hundred people, some complete with white linen table clothes and silver punch bowls. But some of my smaller events have been every bit as meaningful and memorable. For my youngest daughter’s 16th birthday, I started out with the question, “What is your vision for your party?” She wanted an elegant al fresco dinner party with a group of her dearest friends. And then came the detail questions. “How does one become elegant?” Clearly, facial masks and cucumber slices would be needed. And as a party favor, each girl received a pair of jeweled bobby pins to place in her hair. And, of course, food is very important. “How many courses should we prepare?”
Years ago, there was a family who hosted Civil War Balls in a similar way that my family is currently hosting the Balls. Those Balls started out as family events just as our current Balls are family events. However, being that there were no rules in place about chaperones, in time, teenagers began coming without their parents. Later, entire church youth groups were brought in by the van loads and dropped off with no adult supervision. The people who were hosting the Balls could not do all the work to host and also supervise all the young people - some of who definitely need their activities monitored. That family finally gave up and said that they would never host again.
When I began hosting these events six years ago, some of the "old timers" from that first set of Balls warned me to always make sure that every teenager was chaperoned by an older, responsible adult. I have heeded these words and found that our Balls have remained pleasant and controlled, allowing me to focus on the dancing instead of worrying about whether or not the attendees were getting into trouble. I have found that everyone has happily complied with our chaperone rule for the mutual satisfaction of all.
My musician husband often tells our daughters, who are also musicians, that playing music has the additional benefit of allowing them to visit new places and meet people they would not have otherwise. That sentiment is true for me as a dance caller as well. Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to call dances for an outdoor church event on the grounds of a beautiful Byzantine church in San Luis Obispo. Last night, I traveled to the historic adobe fort in Taft and called dances for about fifty high school students. The event was sponsored by a local ministry in the town, Higher Impact, which provided the venue, dance calling and a lovely buffet for the students. None of the students had ever experienced a Victorian style social dance before, but they worked hard to come up with costumes for the event and danced with enthusiasm. One of my great delights is sharing with new groups my passion for bringing people together through social dance.
In the Victorian Era, many ladies used their leisure time to create paper crafts to give as gifts and mementos to friends and family. When I have the opportunity, I enjoy browsing through antique stores in search of old photos and cards. For me, they tell stories. Some of the post cards that I have purchased have intriguing messages. I bought an old autograph album (with the back cover missing) that was full of poems. Antique photos are my favorite, and I have many that were handed down to me from my grandmother. Old photos tell stories of love, adventures and family. I sometimes copy these old photos and cards and incorporate them into gifts for family and friends, adding my own twists and changes, using their stories to make new memories.