Our volleyball banquet was last Thursday night and it was a very moving occasion.
The thing that was the most moving involved eight huge tables and 60+ folding chairs. Meelyn, Aisling, my friend Susan (the other member of the banquet committee) and Jeff, the volleyball-dad-and-associate-pastor combo at whose church we were banqueting, manhandled those tables and chairs all over this huge church hall. When we were done, I was ready to go home and take to the bed with some Kahlua and decaf, but the work was only just beginning.
Meelyn and Aisling arranged memorabilia that our senior girls had contributed so that banqueters could look it over and observe the girls' progress through five or six years of volleyball. I only met these big girls last year when they were juniors, so looking at all their momentos was very touching, seeing them as 12- and 14-year-olds like my girls, all pigtails and braces, instead of the nearly-grown young adults they are now.
Susan and I put tablecloths on the tables, then laid out the centerpieces and got the buffet table ready for the caterers. Our banquet bugdet is so small as to nearly be non-existent, and I highly suspect that Susan supplemented the amount of money she had to buy decorations out of her own pocketbook. She had made really nice candle centerpieces in clear glass containers, hand-painting the glass with the girls' names and team numbers. The candles were a very nice size for a centerpiece and I have to say, in spite of the fact that this was a low-cost event with paper tablecloths and napkins and no change-plates and salt and pepper that came in plastic shakers, it all looked very nice. And that was totally due to Susan, who is one of those people who could make a silk purse out of a pig's ear with ease.
The caterers arrived exactly when they were supposed to, which led me at first to believe that they weren't actually caterers, but extremely well-organized space aliens from Planet Dinnerparty. The food was very good, the beverages cold, the talk around the tables merry and bright.
Meelyn and Aisling's coach has been with our organization for five years now as the junior varsity coach, and consequently, he got choked up a couple of times. He gave Meelyn the Service award because of her habit of always being there for her teammates with a serve, set or save. Her sweet face glowed with pride and I had to blot away my tears with half of a Parker House roll.
Aisling was the last member of the junior varsity team to be called up to the platform. She was given the Personal Growth because, as the coach said, she had progressed from being a player who simply could not come to practice without getting hammered in the face with the ball, to being one of the team's most reliable servers. I was very proud of her, too, and offered up a thankful prayer that she made it through the season with her glasses intact.
Because my husband came to the banquet straight from work, we had two vehicles there that night. Meelyn elected to come home with me and Aisling said she wanted to ride with Daddy. So Meelyn and I piled into the van (with considerably less cargo than we arrived with -- we were rivaling the Joads for the Amount of Stuff You Can Cram Into or Onto One Motor Vehicle on the way there) and set off for home.
Three seconds after exiting the church parking lot, Meelyn said distractedly, "I can't find my letter from Coach! He said he wrote us all letters and put them in our folders with our team pictures and our certificates, but it's not here! I must have dropped it! Oh, Mommy, let's turn around and go back."
I obediently wheeled the van back around and took her to the door behind the church, which was actually an emergency exit we'd propped open when unloading the van earlier. She got out and banged vigorously on the door until someone inside heard her and let her in; she disappeared and came back about five minutes with an envelope, smiling.
"Daddy had it," she explained, tearing it open and reading.
I pulled out of the church parking lot and back onto the state highway, anxious to make the half hour drive home as quick as possible. We drove along while Meelyn finished her letter, perused her certificate and nearly drove me mad by insisting that I look at every single person in the team picture, even though I was driving through the deep darkness of a Thursday evening in November during rutting season, when the deer population seems intent on making sweet Bambi love and crashing through the windshields of unwary drivers.
Suddenly, Meelyn let out a high-pitched squeal and I hit the brakes, wincing and expecting to see either the sharp hooves or the eight-point rack of a startled 250 pound buck coming in at us. "Mommy!" she shrieked. "I CAN'T FIND MY AWARD!"
"You scared me half to death," I said accusingly.
"I can't find it!" she wailed. "It was really nice, too, a volleyball medal with my name on the back!"
"You know," I said, "when I picked up your purse, I heard something jangle and clang, but I just thought it was those charms on the zipper pull of your bag knocking against the metal folding chair. I wonder if what I heard was actually your award falling out."
"I bet it was," she said. "I put it in the front pocket of my purse."
Sighing, I wheeled the car back around again and drove a couple of miles back to the church. We repeated the previous performance and she pranced back out a couple of minutes later with the medal swinging around her forefinger. She hopped in the van and buckled up.
"Now," I said, leaving the van in Park. "Have you got everything? Your volleyball stuff? Your coat? Purse? HEAD?"
"Yep," she said. "C'mon, let's hurry up and get home. I'm really tired."
"You and me both," I said.
June through November, volleyball is over for another year.
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