Phil turned 40 on Thanksgiving.  This was not an event to go unnoticed.  In fact, this milestone was observed by my family on Thursday, then again with me taking him shopping in Philly, later meeting up with his brother and nephews at a beer garden in Fishtown.  The culminating event was an intimate gathering for 50 at the home of my sister in law, complete with a roast given via power point presentation, a trophy, and 100 lb ice shot luge.

People love to celebrate Phil because Phil loves to celebrate.  He is a legendary partier.  He is not necessarily a party ANIMAL, just someone who is committed to having a good time.   

Ok, maybe a little bit of an animal.If Phil is the Party Captain, then I am the Barstool Therapist- the one who huddles up with you in the corner to dissect the REAL reason your mother in law “forgot” to put out your plate of vegan cookies on the dessert table last Christmas.  I enjoy parties and love an opportunity to kick back and let loose….but I feel more comfortable at intimate gatherings.  I start to get a little nervous when Phil threatens to moon my mother or puts on a helmet.

In the beginning of our relationship, I found Phil’s “party as if you will get killed by a Septa bus tomorrow” mentality so overwhelming that I almost broke up with him.   That is, if my friends and family would have let me.  Early in our relationship we went to a Hibachi restaurant with a few of my cousins, a raucous outing that escalated into what I call the Sapporo Induced Chopstick Incident. Toward the end of the evening I cornered my cousin Julie, garnering her support: “So, I think I am going to end it with this guy….do you think maybe he’s a mental patient?” To which she replied, “Really? Well….if you don’t want him, can we fix him up with Erin? He’s hilarious; we want to keep him in the family!”

KEEP him in the family?  I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone.  Why did no one else think it was weird that this guy drove around with a large stuffed moon wearing a tuxedo and an eye patch (Mac the Knife, Phil’s “party mascot”) buckled into the back seat of his car?

So while it may have peer pressure that kept me hanging on in the beginning, it was getting to know the man behind the curtain – the sweet, sensitive, patient guy beneath the party persona – that sealed the deal.  It was in the quiet moments that I fell in love. Late afternoon drives to nowhere in particular, stopping for a beer at a local dive bar, holing up for the afternoon in coffee shop or bookstore…as long as I always have these moments with Phil, I don’t care how many stuffed animals or coolers of Coors Light come along for the ride.

Celebrating another person means you surround him with love simply because he is who he is.  Phil IS the guy who landed his first engineering internship not through a formal interview but by serving beers to Merck executives at a local bar while dressed up as Spuds McKenzie.  He IS the most popular guest at a wedding thanks to his post-ceremony tailgate and legendary “chair dance.” He is the guy who brings a cooler of beer while trick-or-treating and buys a keg for his daughter’s christening.

But he is also the guy who brings me my coffee every morning. He is the guy who took me to endless appointments for months leading up to my colon surgery.  He is the dad that will play tea party with his daughter wearing heels and an Easter bonnet.  He calls his mother not because he has to but because he really wants to hear about her day.  He runs to get a pen and notebook when I suggest doing an exercise from a book called Getting The Love You Want. 

These are the things I look forward to celebrating about my husband for another 40 years.

So maybe I wasn’t first in line for the ice shot luge, but that’s ok…

I will leave that to my mother-in-law.

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