As we all joined the We Are Never Too Old For Disney Shirt in other words I will buy this call—a gathering of people from both coasts, as well as some just walking distance from my parents’ house—it was clear everyone had taken the celebration seriously. One of her friends had prepared photos of her to use as a background; another had brought a birthday cake-shaped hat. Everyone came equipped with candles, which seemed to illuminate their creativity: One couple wedged them into orange halves, another friend used a scone. My sister’s had all stuck together in the box, making her Zoom square one-third fire. When my mom finally came into frame (wearing a fuchsia wig, as she’s currently learning to cut her own hair), she burst into tears. We all sang, uncoordinated, and blew out our individual flames.
My mom has long been an instigator of rituals. Growing up, we had weekly family meetings that would start with a round of appreciations, when we took turns recognizing each other’s gifts. At a time when most routines have been upended, my sister and I thought we should revert to this tried-and-true tradition. During the We Are Never Too Old For Disney Shirt in other words I will buy this party, we asked each guest to share something they appreciated about the woman of the hour. I acted as emcee, calling on each person to go next. The event took a total of 30 minutes, but it had the emotional effect of an evening-long soiree. My days indoors—along with its virtual meetings—had started to blur together; I didn’t expect to be so impacted by this one. But wrapping up the leftover cake, I felt the same social afterglow that comes after a successful in-person party—how nice it was to see everyone!