It was mid-December 1999 when I received an invitation for a New Year's Eve party from friend Helen. She was asking me and friends Pat and Susan to join her in welcoming in 2000 with a Slumber Party. I had just turned 69 and it had been many years since I'd been invited to a "slumber party" but, knowing Helen, it would be a fun event so of course I accepted.
Helen lived in a big house and loved to entertain. Her adult daughter lived with her but had other plans for the evening so Pat, Susan and I would have our own rooms. The plans called for having dinner, some musical entertainment, TV watching, toasting in the New Year, and brunch in the morning.
I had met these three women soon after my husband and I joined the Methodist church when we moved to Oregon in 1992. Pat and I became acquainted at a Bible Study Class and both she and Helen were in a potluck group with us and other church members. Susan and I were in a church bridge club and Helen and I were both members of the Jottings writers at the Adult Community Center. I enjoyed each of them for their unique personalities and our shared common interests.
Through the years we had become close friends and in 1998 when my husband died, their friendship and support had made us even closer. Having often seen us at concerts and plays, they invited me to join them after his death which I greatly appreciated. We dined out and also in each other's homes and were active in church and community events.
And so plans were made for the slumber party. Helen was providing the main dish and the champagne, Pat and Susan were bringing food for dinner and I was to bring something for brunch.
I'm not sure why I decided to go shopping at the mall that morning and browse the after-Christmas sales but, as it turned out, I found the best of all bargains. Passing through one of the shops I noticed a display of women's nightshirts. They were a vivid turquoise with red trim and showing young girls with the words "Slumber Party 2000" printed on the front. The nightshirts came in a small metal carrying case and included bright red foot warmers. I recall the ridiculous reduced price being something like $4.00. Four of them were quickly purchased.
We were in a partying mood arriving at Helen's. This was despite dire predictions we'd heard of what could happen worldwide if technology systems had problems changing from 1999 to 2000.
I recall our having dinner while the Lawrence Welk show played on the TV prompting Helen to dance to and fro her trips to the kitchen. I'm not sure of the other activities but at some point we decided to take a drive to view the neighborhood's Christmas light displays. We all piled into my Jeep Cherokee and there were oohs and aahs as I wove through the streets of lavishly lit homes.
I had presented my nightshirt gifts earlier in the evening and they were a big hit … and even more so as we donned them over our pajamas providing much laughter and photo-taking. We toasted in the New Year and eventually retired to our designated rooms. The next morning we listened to the news as we brunched and were happy to learn that all had gone well in the technical world as we entered the new millennium.
I have enjoyed many special New Year's Eve parties but this one is near the top of my list because of these exceptional friends. All were seasoned widows when my husband died and they became my mentors in the process of accepting death and again embracing life.
Three years later, in 2003, they continued to be there for me, cheering me on to a second marriage and helping with the church reception.
I was the youngest of the four and have been saddened, as one by one, they passed on. I will never forget the kindness and friendship of Pat, Sue and Helen — they enriched my life in so many ways. And proved that you're never too old to enjoy a New Year's Eve Slumber Party.
Jo Ann Parsons is a member of the Jottings Group at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.
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