“What are we doing for my graduation?” my 17-year-old daughter, Hazel* asked.
“Uh…well,” I began, cringing at the potential expectations hit of an open house and all the trimmings. “I was going to ask you what you have in mind.” Here it comes…
“I don’t think I want anything big. Maybe just the family.”
“You got it!” I replied a hair too quickly punctuated by a sigh of relief. No graduation invitations/announcements. No awkward mingling with obligated open house attendees who calculated to the second how long they’d have to stay to box check our party without being rude. No taco/potato/pizza bar. No drinks. Just the family – a small get together. Ah, yes! Graduation on a budget!
May I take a moment to address the annual tradition of the graduation announcement? Let’s get down to brass tacks and call them what they are (I’m talking to you parents): A cash grab card.
If I haven’t spoken to/texted you in the past two years, don’t send me a cash grab card. If the last time I saw your graduate she had an accident in her Pull-Ups, don’t send me a cash grab card and out of respect for how our friendship has all but evaporated, I won’t send you one either. Keep your $20 and I’ll keep mine.
While we’re discussing senior year traditions, when was the last time you looked at your senior pictures? I suspect about ten years ago when you cringed at the “self inflicted uppercut to the chin pose” and marveled at how hip you thought you looked at the time. Remember how important it was to have a “professional”** take them and how you just HAD to have “wallets” to hand out to all your besties? Those days are over thanks to the smartphone camera and the sepia filter. Yes, I took my daughter’s senior pictures. Cost: $0. And if I have some printed who knows but you can bet I’ll use my Target Cartwheel and Redcard discounts!
Back to grad party planning. A cursory family guest list yielded seven people. Hazel was visibly disappointed.
“We don’t have a lot of family around here,” I said feeling sorry for her as she realized her cash grab party dreams were dead. She wrote ‘pathetic’ above the ‘grad party’ guest list in my spiral notebook. Hoping to lift her mood I enthusiastically offered, “How about a taco bar?” No dice or diced onions and tomatoes.
The more I think about it, with a guest list as short as ours, maybe dinner at a nice restaurant would be just the ticket. Less hassle for me and Hazel would appreciate a fine meal where she could order anything she wanted. Looks like the Target Café is having a BOGO special on mini pizzas plus 5% off with Cartwheel! Now that’s graduation on a budget! I bet that will lift her mood!
* This is not her real name but “Hazel” chose it. All I can think of is this, my absolute favorite episode of “The Andy Griffith Show”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ie0Ivttylc I encourage you to watch the entire episode. Don Knotts was a comedic genius.
** My “professional” employed a medieval forest backdrop, green shag carpet and a styrofoam log for me to lean on all the while instructing me to “act natural.”