For my birthday this year, Nick gave me the best gift ever – he didn’t make me plan a thing!
My birthday (December 8) is a little to close to the Christmas season for my tastes. Planning a birthday party has always been a bit of a hassle – competing with finals when I was in college, then with the holiday parties that everyone throws in early December. I actually had someone ask me why I was throwing a party in December – he felt there were already enough…I had to explain to him that despite the red sweater and Santa hat he’d donned for my party this was actually my birthday party!
I’ve always insisted on having a celebration, though. How else would I get my share of gifts and well-wishes? Not to mention my license to be a birthday brat (a time honored tradition in my family). But I am a bit of a procrastinator, which usually leads to an attempt to plan a party at the last minute, and in a season where people have so many cometing priorities this doesn’t usually work too well. I’ve managed to throw some great bashes, but this year I was feeling a bit down – having not really set up a large social circle here in Cape Town, it was looking like it wasn’t really going to happen.
Nick came to the rescue – he told me that there was a plan in the works, but that it would be a surprise. The Saturday before my birthday he got me up, gave me some general guidelines on what to wear and pack, and we headed out the door. We drove through to Somerset West, where his folks and a bunch of our friends live. He dropped me off at the mall while he ran some last minute errands, and then we headed through to our destination. Nick and our friend Chole had planned a shushi and margarita party for me, two of my favorite things! And if that wasn’t enough, they’d talked Chloe’s dad into letting us use their wine cellar/tasting room as the destination. With the vinyards and the Helderberg mountains encircling it, it is definitely one of my favorite places. Not to mention the fact that her folks have decorated it beautifully! When our friends arrived, we set up on benches outside so we could see the sunset and moon rise, and when it got dark enough we started a bonfire to keep away the chill (it is Cape Town, after all). It was a really magical evening.
The next day, after a big fry-up breakfast with Nick’s family, he gave me the next surprise – we were heading through to the Franschoek valley for the Champagne and Cap Classique festival! I’m a HUGE bubbly fan, and this was pretty top notch. All the big names in SA Cap Classique were there, plus some imported champagnes and even a prosecco – my fav by far. We tasted away, listened to the live music, ate strawberries and took in all the posh outfits. It was definitely a little ‘Muffy and Buffy go to the Country Club’ kind of set, with men and women wearing what I like to think of as Colonial Chic – women in diaphanous long white tops over matching skirts or pants with ‘artsy’ long necklaces, men in white or pastel linen shirts and loafers, and quite a number of hats. Too entertaining.
My actual birthday on Tuesday was equally fun. Nick’s mom and sister came over for mimosas and muffins, brought presents and took me shopping at the Old Biscuit Mill, a great place with a million little shops. Nick and I headed to the Kalk Bay harbor for a lunch of fresh fish and wine right on the ocean. My folks and fam had sent over gifts from the US, and Nick had a few for me too – I felt so spoiled! Overall it was a fabulous birthday, and a good start to a new year. And Nick knows me so well he knew I’d love a break from making decisions for a couple of days – it was really a treat!