The animals come to the birthday party and talk about love, Part 2

Updated: Oct 28

This is the second of a two-part post about love, which obsesses me: how love works, how we can keep it alive.



Last time we left off in the middle of a kind of reunion of the animals that used to show up at the nightly and most wildly elaborate birthday party I’d tell my little girls about every bedtime.


It was mostly about fun, but it was deep down about whatever woes my little girls were struggling through that day. “Mom! Rachel keeps telling me what to do all the time!! Tell her to stop telling me what to do!!!” Birthday parties can solve a lot of problems.


Well, now we’re grownups, and now so many of our problems have to do with love. And we’ve already heard what

  • Ellie the Elephant with her Elegant Emerald Earrings

  • Rhiney the Rhinoceros with her Runny Nose and Rhinestones

  • Lori the Lion with her Luscious Lips and Lime-green Lipstick

  • Tina the Tiger with her Twinkly Toes and Tidy Tail

have to say on the subject.


Now let’s hear from

  • Wilma the Whooping Crane with her Wacky Wings and Wobbly Wedgies

  • Geri the Giraffe with her Jolly Jacket and Jiggly Jowls

  • Minnie the Monkey with her Merry Mouth and Magenta Mini-skirt

  • Zoe the Zebra with her Zany Zips and Zilly Zooms


Wilma the Whooping Crane with her Wacky Wings and Wobbly Wedgies is, like most birds, intensely practical. Here’s what she has to say:


Oh, come on, dearie. Love is work. But!! You have to work smart. I don’t know what annoys me more. People who don’t work on their relationship or people who don’t know how to work on their relationship. As we cranes say, a badly built nest is worse than no nest at all. I mean, really! Working on your relationship isn’t trying to endure the unendurable. It’s not trying to talk something out and just getting into an argument over and over again. No! It’s the work of listening, understanding, and being smart and thoughtful. And always being forward looking, like a beautiful bird like me!!


Geri the Giraffe with her Jolly Jacket and Jiggly Jowls has been around the block more than a few times and has her own take:


Honestly? Wilma, don’t waste your time. Love is what you get when you find the right person. It’s our reward for smart selection. Am I the only one who sees this? If you want to do all that work, put your effort into finding someone with whom you have really good chemistry. Yeah! Then you won’t have anything to work on. Then you’ll like each other. Then love will appear like daisies in the springtime. It’s as simple as that.


Minnie the Monkey with her Merry Mouth and Magenta Mini-skirt was shut down for a couple of minutes by Geri’s incisive comments. But then she jumped in:


I...I...I don’t know what things are like for you. I’ll just talk about myself. Love is about all the things you do. It’s stew. A Lego building. Something you put together and keep putting together, and it depends on your doing and doing and doing whatever to keep putting it together and putting stuff into it. What are you doing today? And now? And tomorrow? If you love me you care for me, and if you care for me you do things that show it. And if I love you I care for you, and if I care for you I do things that show it. Love is the things love does to keep itself alive.


Zoe the Zebra with her Zany Zips and Zilly Zooms batted her big black eyelids dreamily and said simply,


Love is hope. I know I feel love because I feel this hope of beautiful, wonderful things with Zack in our Zebra future. But it’s not just a fragile cloud of hope. Clouds evaporate. For me this hope is also a question: what AM I hoping for and how do I keep it alive? I just think that if we look at what’s inside the hope our love is based on—what exactly we’re hoping for—and work together to make that happen, then our hopes come true and our love stays real.


And then, well, party hour has its way of drifting into evening, and thoughts of dinner come into our friends’ heads, and thoughts of home and quiet and time with a loved one. So off they drift, softly into the fresh new night. But it’s never over, because every single night Elizabeth can have a birthday party, as long as she lives. And she never has to die.


The same with love.

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