We are having a busy week. After hibernating for much of the winter, we suddenly have three social outings scheduled in the same week. It’s nice to be invited.
It makes me think of a YouTube skit my kids once showed me, where some prankster was having a birthday party. He visited a host of people he did not like, informing them all with glee ‘I am having a party and you are not invited’.
Uninvited sounds like something most people can relate to, with an ache. Not making the invite list can pick at that scab of insecurity. Facebook has been responsible for a lot of this, with posted pictures of people on holiday, partying, having a good time. It gives a false sense of what everyone else is doing - having more fun than you are. This anxiety has become a phenomena they call FOMO - the fear of missing out. People suffer from it.
Exclusivity on purpose, is a thing. Some arts venues will raise money by selling proprietary seating arrangements to special donors. Money buys access. The higher the ticket price, the more prestige you get. Spend 30 grand, get a season pass and your name mentioned as a donor. 40 Grand and you get a section of the facility named after you etc. As the ticket price goes higher, there are less people who can possibly qualify to compete.
It makes me think of the time I wanted to build a deluxe doll house for my kids. Where to go, but to the doll house store, a place dedicated to all things doll-house? I should have known that the store was exclusive. It was in that kind of neighbourhood. But I took my three kids and we went for a visit to see what was to be had.
It turns out, that dollhouses are NOT marketed to kids. Instead, they have become an aficionado market for older adults with money to burn. Imagine that you can buy a line of custom chairs from a certain designer, all pint-sized? There is no limit to the end game for hobbyists with money. You can install electrical lighting, and details that you would never imagine exist. A dollhouse costs surprisingly, in the thousands, not in the hundreds. To furnish it with intricate details, the sky is the limit. Those who check the price tag, need not apply.
As unimaginable as it may seem, this meant that bringing in three kids to the dollhouse store, made me stick out like a sore thumb, like the only one who had not gotten the memo that we were not the kind of customers they were seeking. A lady who might well have been one of Hitler’s brownshirts followed us closely through the store, clucking her disapproval. My kids have always been well-behaved. So she did not need to repeat over and over “don’t touch that, don’t touch that, don’t touch that’. By that time my hair was standing up.
Despite this, I sourced some items but got a case of sticker shock when they were tersely tallied at the till. I looked at the lady at the cash and said, “You know what? All of this stuff is shamelessly overpriced. I am going to make something better, at home.” And we left.
Like they say, necessity is the mother of invention. I went home and improvised. Lord knows I have wood scraps. I cut out some thin strips to make into roofing, windows, and doors. What I ended up with was far better than anything the doll house store could have provided. Not only that, my doll house was made from baltic birch plywood unlike the thin MDF panels stuck together with hot melt glue at the dollhouse store. Mine could withstand being dropped from the second story of a house and still survive. And so it stands today, fifteen years later.
Still, passing by the dollhouse reminds me of the horrible reception we got from the store, that sinking feeling of being unwelcome, and the lady who repeatedly drove the message home without any feeling of shame at all.
Jesus told a parable in the Bible about a great wedding feast. The same people who were first invited, didn’t care very much. They gave excuses as to why they could not come. They declined because they were busy, distracted and bored. Accordingly, the Lord of the feast commanded his servants to go out into the highways and byways and gather up whomever they could find, to fill up the empty seats.
Life can be a curious thing. The joy of being invited might outdo the original disappointment of being left out in the cold, knocking. How do I know? Because I have like you, lost my invitation at times. No matter. The Lord of the feast has re-issued the invite, and the good news is that the guest list is non-exclusive. Your name is on it and so is mine.
Welcome to the party.