Do you know what I never shared in 2016?
Last year’s back-to-school party!!
How forgetful of me!
It’s never too late, though, and so I’ll tell you now that on a special Friday in September, we celebrated our annual back-to-school bash, which just so happens to be one of my most favorite days of the year.
Back-to-school reads something like Christmas round these parts, but instead of candy canes and toys and hot chocolate decking our halls, there are apples and books and 1% milk in vintage milk jugs.
I don’t know if the kids feel like this is a second Christmas, but I sure do.
This small party is the way I personally enjoy passing out all of our new books and school supplies, our wardrobes for the next season (I’m serious about clothing, y’all), and is my one big attempt to get our little family, including myself, excited about learning in the context of our home academy.
Normally, I have each child’s secret stash set out at their spot at the table, but last year, I wanted to do a little something different with our routine, something that would throw an unexpected bit of magic into our party.
So my idea was to find four literary characters — characters who are important to each of my children — who would be willing to stop periodically by our house at the time of our party to deliver each child their box of goods.
Of course, there IS that one problem of literary characters not actually being real.
So my next plan was to find four actors who would be willing to PLAY literary characters who would stop periodically by our house at the time of our party to deliver each child their box of goods.
Of course, there is that one problem of us living in a small town and being far from all the big towns — we might have a lot of drama, but we don’t DO a lot of drama — and, though I did discuss this plan with a beloved former teacher who heads up the drama team at the high school, I knew this was a major MAJOR long shot, especially with the short notice I was providing.
It just wasn’t going to happen.
Thankfully, at close to the last minute, a new — and much more reasonable! — plan materialized, with no actors, costumes, or physical literary characters necessary, why?
Because our literary friends were going to visit our party in the delightful old-fashioned way…
through snail mail!!!
The day of the party, letters for each child were quickly penned, and their supplies were gathered into a big box, taped up, wrapped with brown paper, addressed, stamped, and stacked up in a secret place to be distributed by a mysterious delivery man (Mr. Gore) during the party.
For “stamps”, I went…nay! I ran!! this was SO last minute!!…online and found a picture of each child’s literary friend, printed it off, and glued it to the top-right corner of their box, serving nicely as a fun little clue about who their box was from.
By the way, I was plumb GIDDY when it came to this part of the party execution, for this sort of whimsy is the stuff of life that causes my hands to shake in glee and excitement.
Does that make me super cool or super dorky?
Let’s go with super cool.
Now. Who wants to join us for a back-to-homeschool PARTY???
(I can tell by your enthusiastic response that you are super cool, too.)
Can I just say one more time how last minute this party was? I threw all our new books on the table, I slapped a school-ish message on the chalkboard and voila! An easy back-to-school party.
Decorating for school parties is so easy. Apples…milk…vintage school bells…
These darling cookies just happened to be available at Merritt’s Bakery in Tulsa, totally saving my day. I didn’t have time to make cookies! I had fanciful letters to write from literary characters!
This was a big year for us. We finally took the plunge into the world of electronic devices, buying a couple of Kindles for our homeschool. The kiddos went bananas over them.
I went bananas over the books and the freshly sharpened pencils. ❤
Now on to the really fun part!!!
Hidden in the sunroom were each of the kids’ packages, each containing an encouraging letter from their literary friend.
To our baby boy from his FAVORITE friend, Little Bear:
To our youngest daughter from her pal, Mother Goose:
To our eldest daughter from her bosom friend, Anne Shirley:
And to our eldest son, from one throne warden to another, from Artham Wingfeather:
I joked with my Facebook friends that this picture reminds of the famous scene from “Little Women” where the March girls are clustered around Marmee to read the letter from Father, except, in this scene, the children are teaching their granddaddy how to play Subway Surfer. How quaint.
After we had enjoyed our cookies and milk (and coffee for Mama and Grandmother), the doorbell rang.
(Are you as excited as I am???)
The kids ran to the door to see who it was, but alas, the only thing there was a package!
It was for Sheppy!!
He sort of FREAKED OUT when he saw the “stamp” with Little Bear on it, and I knew then that we were in for a fun party.
A card from Little Bear himself! I have to say, we were in a major time crunch when it came to readying for this party, and the letters written on the FLY. It made me especially happy, then, to have Little Bear as one of our guests, for he, too, is just learning to write and composes the simplest of letters.
After our littlest had had ample time to look over his new box of school goodies, the doorbell rang again, this time for our youngest girl!
A handwritten card from Mother Goose?!
Okay, now I’m a little jealous.
Before long, the doorbell rang AGAIN, and the kids were starting to catch on. This box HAD to be for our eldest daughter, they just knew it!
I’ve got to say, writing a letter from the one and only ANNE SHIRLEY was a tall order. I needed more time to think and get my words in order! And then I needed more words!! My hand was cramping by the time I finished this missive, but the result was worth it…
That just left one more surprise delivery, this time for our firstborn.
Reading the Wingfeather Saga with our oldest two had been a year-long journey for our family, and the whole concept of the throne-warden resonated deeply not only with our eldest son, but with all of us. This letter, penned by Mr. Gore, made me a little teary-eyed.
Then AND now.
We hope that Andrew Peterson will forgive us for spelling Artham’s name wrong. Did I mention that we were in a hurry??
‘Twas a magical day, through and through, one that lives sweetly in my memory and continues to fuel our family as we pursue a life of education at home.
Perhaps some favorite literary characters will visit your children this year? Who will you choose?