A Rather Misleading Invitation

Last weekend was Sister’s 40th birthday.

For months we’d been planning a surprise party for her.

I mean, obviously.

40 is a big deal. She is a big deal. It’s just what needed to happen.

This is the invitation that was designed, ordered, and given out to roughly 60 people. I may or may not have been responsible for it. image

Cute, right?

Unfortunately there was endless confusion on the definition of a “Fabulous Forties” cocktail party and what it means to “dress up.” Does it mean dress like it’s prom? Does it mean business casual? Does it mean dress in 1940’s attire? By the way, I’m still very unclear as to what 1940’s attire is, exactly. Is it flapper dresses and feathers? Is it tea length dresses and loafers? Is it Doris Day hair? Is it high-waisted men’s trousers with Dick Tracy ties? No one knows. 

I do see it now. It was a rather misleading invitation. I simply meant dress UP! As in, fancy. I was mostly just looking for an excuse to wear the gold sequin mini skirt that’s been hanging unworn in my closet for 2 years. A cocktail party seemed the perfect (and only) occasion to do so.

The “Fabulous Forties” title simply pertained to the fact that Sister is 40 and she also happens to be fabulous.

In the end, it worked out well enough. We cleared up the confusion with most people, and if there were a few who missed the memo they managed to blend into the dimly lit and crowded room undetected.

I was sweating the whole ordeal for weeks because party planning is not my area of expertise…at all. I worried the room would look stale and the food wouldn’t be right and that no one would even come. Ultimately my worry was in vain (as it usually is) because the party turned out to be lovely. Not because we are great party planners, but because Sister has so many people who love her. Relatives traveled from out-of-state to be there. Family and close friends rallied and helped with planning, food, decorating, and everything in between. I daresay we pulled it off! When the doors opened and everyone yelled “Surprise”, she backed up, started to cry, and began making undefinable hand motions. It was perfect.


During the toasts, there was laughter and tears and general inadvertent gushing. We even had a video montage. You guys know how I am with video montages. It doesn’t matter what the pictures are of. It doesn’t even matter who the pictures are of. I will cry.

Virtually any pictures set to music will destroy my makeup in ten seconds flat.

At my niece’s 8th grade graduation I was so moved by the video montage (%97 of which was pictures of kids I don’t even know) that I’m certain I worried the sweet old man sitting next to me on the bench while I cry-laughed like a maniac through the whole thing.

Ah, but I digress.

Back to Sister. Here is why I love her.

  • She has gumption. She has raised children, started businesses, taught classes, and known when to cut and run when something isn’t the right fit- all things that require bravery and wisdom. She dreams big, and it is no surprise to me that she is now experiencing huge success with A Kitchen Box.
  • She keeps it classy. Sister is undoubtedly the classy one of the family. Dad is the rock. Mom is the example. I am the wisecracking kid sister. But she is the classy one. She should be in charge of all Public Relations for the family.
  • She teaches me things. Important things, and little things. Like- you need to have a microplaner and a meat thermometer in your kitchen and you must never wear athletic socks unless you’re going to the gym. Usually I ignore her advice for about 3 years until I finally wise up. I am going to work on this. (Note to self: It’s possible that Sister is right about face creams…I’m 33 now…maybe it’s time?)
  • She gets me. Sister and I are nearly incapable of fooling one another. She knows the realest me, which is invaluable in life. She has always been a sounding board, a voice of reason, a like-minded yet unique point of view, and she always brings me back to the truth of things. I respect her.
  • She lives what she believes. Growing up as pastor’s kids, there was always a high standard set in our home. Not in an oppressive, legalistic kind of a way- but rather our parents instilled in us both a high value on obeying God- whatever that might look like for us personally. They didn’t care if we were successful by the world’s standards. They cared if we were successful in LIFE. Whether it was choosing if or where to go to college, whom to marry, or what we ultimately wanted to do and be in life- they never pushed anything on us. They taught us to seek the Lord for ourselves, and then they trusted our decisions. Sister made the choice to marry and have kids at a young age. People thought she was naive, but she knew her own heart and she followed it. I’ve watched her be a wife for 20 years, and a mom for 18 years. If there’s anything in the whole world that will expose you for who you really are, it’s those two roles. Through all the challenges of loving Jesus and navigating the real world, she has never wavered in living out what she believes. I find this to be endlessly encouraging.

For all these reasons and in spite of the fact that she has thinner ankles,  Sister will always be one of my closest people.

Look at her, isn’t she cute?


9 thoughts on “A Rather Misleading Invitation

  1. Mary Henderson

    I was there, blending into the dim and casually dressed. I wasn’t invited, but when I heard about the party and since I was in Southern Oregon for another event, I crashed. Yes, I heard about the 40’s cocktail theme and after googling what the clothes looked like, I considered renting a hat and gloves to go with my LBD. Thankfully I didn’t! You see, I have known Brooke since she was a wee one and she’s my daughter’s business partner. What a fabulous night seeing close family and dear friends! Thank you Amber for throwing such a great party. You are now officially a party planner!

    1. ambersalhus@msn.com

      Mary, it was lovely to spend time with you and Larry, as always! The party wouldn’t have been the same without you!

      1. Sister

        Sister –
        AGAIN, with the tears. I am reading your post and my cup runs over. I love you and you are amazing and wonderful. You rocked my world and blessed my heart more than you can ever know. (And now I know why you have been hiding out – “sick”.)

        I mean.. a video montage? I was a little nervous about that. I’m not gonna lie, there was some very bad hair in the last 20+ years, but it was awesome to see my life on that screen.

        The food was perfection! I have amazing friends who are all great cooks.

        The room was beautiful.

        The decorations were gorgeous.

        But most of all, the beautiful faces that filled the room and my heart are unforgettable. I love you sis. I will never forget your “Fabulous Forties” party.

        xoxo -B

  2. Peggy Keller

    It was fab! And misunderstanding the 40’s theme gave me the excuse to buy a “fit and flare” Lucille Ball dress (only a decade off…) and fly to see my favorite people in the world. So glad I’m a part of you all!

    1. Sister

      Love you Mary Anne. Thank you so much. You are very special to us and I loved getting to see you and meet your Jonathon. Come back and see us again. xoxo – B

  3. Amber B

    So sweet!!! The party was a hit, it was fabulous for all!
    Brooke- i have respected and admired you for so long! Thank you for being a constant example for me spiritually, in parenting and in marriage. Thank you for being faithfully consistent in what the Lord calls you to.
    Love you so much!

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