The notion of the infinite variety of detail and the multiplicity of forms is a pleasing one; in complexity are the fringes of beauty, and in variety are generosity and exuberance.
-Annie Dillard

The details, that’s what the world is made of.
-Wes Anderson

I just scurried down an internet rabbit hole, searching for quotes from artists I respect on the subject of the importance of details. I did this, because while I was in Florida, I observed something about a lovely woman in my family.

My sister-in-law, Charleen, pays attention to details.

Of course, I’ve always known this about her, but having spent a longer amount of time in Florida for this last visit, I was able to appreciate this attribute even more.

Charleen has been a part of my life since she and my brother were married in 1987. Thirty years. It goes without saying that she is an awesome partner for my brother and an amazing mom, but I’d like to focus on another aspect of my sister-in-law for a moment.

Charleen knows how to throw a party.

Two of my favorite memories include her party for Pampered Chef products and her scrapbooking fiesta.

Admittedly, I was hesitant to go to the Pampered Chef gathering at first. At the time, in the early 90’s, I wasn’t into cooking. I didn’t find it creative. I thought of it more as a chore, something I had to do. Also, while I like parties, I am much more of an observer, or I prefer to be passive in most social situations, so I wasn’t sure how much I’d have to actively participate. I’d never been to a product party. It turned out to be a lot of fun! I was impressed by the products, and I bought stuff, stuff that has lasted to this day. Without my Pampered Chef garlic press, measuring spoons, and especially my baking stones, I would not enjoy being in the kitchen as much as I do. I owe this joy to my sister-in-law and being invited to her party. It was about the right tools. It was about the details. It was about Charleen.

It did not take any convincing at all for me to say yes to the scrapbook party. I still have a scrapbook from when I was little. I saved things like greeting cards, movie tickets, and brochures from my sixth grade field trip to D.C. Every now and then, I open it. I get a little teary when I see the newspaper photo that inspired our family to get our first dog. Seeing Duke as a puppy makes me remember what it felt like to scoop him up and take him home. Whenever I want to, I can look at his eyes. I can also laugh at myself and my obsession with Erik Estrada. An entire page is devoted to him. So when Charleen invited me to the scrapbook party, I was excited. I love the collage aspect of the craft itself, and getting together with people to do a creative activity is always a good time. Her party had wine, so it was definitely a good time! I was impressed and inspired by how elaborate scrapbooking had become. We used glitter and stickers, and we bedazzled many pages with shiny beads. Totally girly. Totally fun. Totally my sister-in-law.

Planning for Hannah’s wedding was also a job totally perfect for Charleen. Obviously, my niece had a lot to do with the details of her wedding, but I am highlighting my sister-in-law’s efforts in this post. Planning this event was particularly emotional for Charleen. She and Hannah are very close. They have a relationship I admire, and any time a relationship changes, even a little bit, it’s hard. All the hours and stress of planning were coupled with the fact that her little girl was about to experience a rite of passage, a ceremony that would mean Hannah would be moving out and starting a marriage of her own. Not a small deal.

So, sister-in-law, this page is for you. I want you to know that I appreciated the details… like Hannah and Colby’s portraits on the M&M’s, the photos of Cooper and Penny, the embossed, glittered, and handwritten place cards, and most of all, the scrapbook pages. Thank you, Charleen, for giving Benjamin and me (and many other loved ones in Hannah’s life) the opportunity to write to her and to collage photos of her. Not only was this heartfelt and inclusive, it was creative and fun and totally YOU!

Thank you for your consistent love and generosity, for caring about the details, the beauty you make, and for once again, hosting a lovely, memorable gathering. Go to the beach now and relax! You deserve it!