Creatively turning a bad situation into a fun time
Like every other person on this globe, I had to cancel most plans for the summer of 2020. The toughest decision was to cancel the family reunion in celebration of my parents’ 80th birthdays.
My mom’s and dad’s birthdays are June 14th and August 11th respectively. Both in 1940. My three older brothers and I feel blessed that both have aged well. This is in large part due to their faith in God, their focus on health, and their love of family.
They immigrated together from the Netherlands in the 60s to join siblings who had already made the journey to Canada. Growing up, we spent many happy hours playing with cousins who lived within the same small town. Our annual family reunions to Sandbanks Provincial Park in Picton, Ontario is one of my most favourite memories.
So in lieu of our family gathering for a large get-together, I organized a drive-by birthday party.
On Mom’s birthday in June, 11 carloads full of my cousins, aunts and uncles, nieces, nephews, and second-cousins gathered in a gas station parking lot to organize. We mapped out the roads we were to drive on together, pasted posters and streamers on the side of our vehicles, and then at 2:00 p.m., we drove away.
We passed my parent’s home with honks and screams of “happy birthday” as my mom stood, tears streaming down her cheeks, on the front lawn. My brother and sister-in-law had arrived at their home earlier to ensure they would be in the front yard and filmed the event from that vantage point.
As a group, we decided to drive through the neighbourhood once again but on the second drive-by, we got out of our vehicles and sang “Happy Birthday” in both English and Dutch.
In all their 80 years, my parents had never experienced such a unique birthday celebration.
As the summer days crawled along, and some of the Covid-19 restrictions lifted to include gatherings of 50 people, we had hoped to still host a reunion in my parent’s honour. But our family, with all our cousins and great-grandchildren, was much too large for this.
So in lieu of our family gathering for a large get-together, I organized a photo video keepsake.
On Dad’s birthday in August, I presented him with a 6-minute video slideshow comprised of photos of him from when he was a young man all the way to present-day.
Included in the collection were photos from family members holding posters with birthday messages and congratulations.
I uploaded the video to YouTube and shared with all the family to enjoy. My parents were overjoyed at such a birthday tribute.
What started out as a tough decision to cancel my parent’s birthday celebration turned into two unique events that will forever bring smiles in memory.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28 NIV).
(First featured on Medium platform November 9, 2020)