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All the Parties I Forgot to Throw
An ode to celebrating milestones, no matter the size.
“And what are you doing to celebrate your book’s release?” A couple months ago, my therapist was making conversation at the end of a session, asking polite life questions to cap off my usual, hourlong cry-fest. When she caught my blank stare, she paused, then followed up with, “You are going to do something, right?” Another stare. “Okay,” she sighed. “That’s your goal for this month. Find a way to celebrate this moment. I don’t care what you do. Just do something.”
Since that conversation, I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to a book launch event at Gramercy Books, my local indie bookstore. And I get to celebrate at some point with my incredible publishing and agenting team in New York. Really, it’s a wealth of celebration! But I still haven’t come up with an idea for how to mark this day within my own little circle. My husband has offered parties and fancy dinners and spa days, but the thought of being at the center of attention makes me curl in on myself. As much as I love a good party, I’m very bad at celebrating myself. It’s taken me a long time to really examine why. The answer is some befuddling mix of imposter syndrome, introversion, and general evasiveness. Am I alone in this? It almost feels like I have to justify a celebration with some invisible, exacting jury. Is this thing “worth” celebrating?
And it’s not just this moment in time. Substitute “book launch” with “birthday,” “anniversary,” or really any milestone, and you’ll get some version of that same blank stare from me. I had to be coerced into my graduation parties, and every year on my birthday, I try to pretend it doesn’t exist. It frustrates those who love me. I fight the urge to apologize for having A Moment in public—sorry for asking for your time! Sorry for making you plan something for me! Sorry for taking up more space than I should!
But if I pause and think about all these apologies, I can see how they reflect a distorted version of reality, one where relationships are based on debt and obligation, rather than a sense of genuine pleasure. I have loved being present for my friends’ milestones—the birthdays, weddings, babies, new jobs—and I know they feel the same about me. To deny your friends the chance to celebrate you is to cut off a pathway to intimacy, constructing a roadblock where there needn’t be one. It’s easier (and much more fun) to accept love as a two-way street, where everyone forgets about accounting, and just revels in each other’s accomplishments. Because it doesn’t matter how momentous those accomplishments or milestones are; if they matter to us, they’ll matter to our loved ones.
And a part of me also resists celebration because I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Tempering excitement in order to cushion potential disappointment (though when has that ever worked?). Robbing Peter to pay Paul, as they say. But all that happens when you forgo the celebrations is that those moments pass without you. You’re watching them on the periphery, but you’re not really there, in the giddy center of them. Life is too short for mere observation.
When I think about all the parties I could have thrown, I think about big moments as well as little ones. My first date after a toxic relationship where I thought I’d be miserable forever; that time my kid slept through the night for the first time; when my husband and I signed our first lease together; the moment I met with my agent. Those parties could have just been parties of one, me dancing around with a mocktail, high on the idea of reaching a peak, no matter how minor. What would they have cost? More importantly, what does it cost to forgo them?
I still haven’t brainstormed a celebration idea for the book release. Maybe it’ll just be me, taking myself out for a decadent meal. Or maybe I’ll get some girlfriends together for lunch. Call my mom and squeal. Buy that colorful scarf I’ve been eyeing. Whatever happens, I won’t let the day go by without acknowledging it. I owe it to myself and my book!
What are your celebration plans for this season of life? Any milestones you want to mark? Share in the comments so we can celebrate you!
Recent Banyan Moon News:
It’s a June Book of the Month! The picks are so good this month; I had to pick two.
A list of upcoming appearances. Hope I get to meet some of you in the wild!
Homecoming by Kate Morton: This deeply immersive book opens with an unsolved crime that occurs on Christmas Eve in Adelaide Hills, South Australia, in 1959. Following an unforgettable cast of characters, the novel slowly unravels the details of what happened on that fateful afternoon—and how the truth affects generations of the Turner family.
Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano: a beautiful look at sisterhood, with loose ties to Little Women.
French Braid by Anne Tyler: a quiet yet devastating look at a family’s slow unraveling, and the ways they come back together.
Caraval by Stephanie Garber: a magical fantasy about a mysterious island and its enigmatic Legendmaster.
Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune: summer vibes, dual timelines, and a second-chance love story from the master of summer romance novels.
Georgie, All Along by Kate Clayborn: An optimistic romcom that examines the ways we evolve past the old versions of ourselves—and create new relationships along the way.
The Half Moon by Mary Beth Keane: A heavy snowstorm throws an estranged married couple together and forces them to confront past betrayals, alongside the desires of the present.