The regularity of my posts in recent times has been pretty lamentable, but at least I can now finally explain why. Much of my time over the last couple of months has been taken up with preparations for “Daughters Of The King”…
The whole idea began back in August at Dan’s bachelor weekend. Together with eight other guys, I spent the weekend hiking and camping a few hour’s drive from San Diego. While we were catching our breath halfway up a mountain, one of our number, Mike, shared with us an idea he had…
Mike wanted to put together some sort of event for all the ladies in our lives: friends, girlfriends, wives, sisters and mothers. He wanted an evening for the guys to gather together specifically to honour all of the ladies. Quite an extraordinary idea to come out of a bachelor weekend, hey?
Towards the end of September we began preparations. I sent out an email to all the men on the JP2 mailing list, inviting them to join us in this unique enterprise. Twenty men stepped up to the challenge…
We initially met at my apartment, drank some beer and discussed what kind of event we might organize. We were not short of ideas! (In later meetings we would institute the “Don’t suggest an idea unless you’re willing to take it on yourself” rule!) After much discussion, the idea we settled upon was to throw a classy gala evening in the parish hall of Our Lady of the Rosary. We decided that the event would be completely free to the ladies and that the men would cook and serve all of the food.
We had wanted to hold the event on the same date as some Marian Feast, but we ended up choosing November 21st, the Feast of Christ the King. From the title of this feast, we quickly settled upon the name of our event, since we would be spending the evening honouring the daughters of our aforementioned King. Only later would we realise that this date is, in fact, actually also a minor Marian Feast, The Presentation of Mary, the commemoration of Our Lady’s presentation as a child in the Temple.
We sent out invitations to all the ladies on the JP2 mailing list, as well as to those on Facebook. In the meantime, we began preparing for the big day. There were many other meetings, emails and phone calls as we started ironing out the details of the evening. Words cannot really do justice to the amount of time, money and hard work which was put in by all the guys in the run-up.
The Big Day
The day dawned and, for most of us, began early. There was rain forecast for the whole day, but fortunately it stopped a little after lunch, which was superb, because otherwise I would have demanded refunds on several prayers 😉
As soon as the 9am LifeTeen Mass was over, we moved into the Parish Hall and started preparing it for the evening. Each table had a tablecloth, flower centre piece, two main candles and, at each place setting, a small cinnamon-scented candle as a party favour. It took us quite a while to setup the hall, but in the midst of the chaos, we managed to pray together and the doors opened on time at 4:30pm.
We had a rather nice surprise of our own when Mandy, a former San Diegan, walked through the door, having registered under a false name and flown down from Yakima for the event!
The ladies, of course, looked radiant. We had explained in an email “This is your opportunity to make use of that stunning gown at the back of your closet which you rarely have occasion to wear (or that bridesmaid dress you thought you’d never wear again!)” We were very fortunate to have some superb photographers on hand to make a fuss of the ladies and take lots of photos for posterity:
Please Note: In the interests of privacy, you will only be able to view the above video montage if you are a friend of mine on Facebook, sorry. Send me a friend invite! I actually had this video prepared a while ago – it has been wonderful how many times different ladies have mentioned the accompanying song over the past week 🙂
An important part of the evening was the champagne toast. Here, Mike had the opportunity to say a few words and to explain a little bit of the background as to how the evening came about (a short clip of which is found in the above video). All the men then gathered together and toasted “The Daughters Of The King”.
Of course, great consideration went into the meal. We were fortunate to have Joe, a superb cook, in our posse. The ladies were offered a salad as a starter, together with bread and olive oil and for the main course we offered a choice of:
Chicken Francaise: Originating from northern Italy, this delicacy was brought by Italian immigrants to the US during the 1820’s. This dish is not for the boring at heart! The lemon chicken is served with only the finest dry wine from the southern region of Italy. This magical combination will transport you to Italy in an instant.
Eggplant Parmesan: Fresh and locally grown eggplant sliced thinly and into layers, just like “momma” used to make. If fresh homemade sauce and mozzarella cheese is your thing, you need look no further. This is a wonderful option for the vegetarians and the vegans.
Shrimp Scampi: A very popular dish during dinner at the Vatican. This famous Italian dish will satisfy your need for both seafood and pasta. We drench our shrimp in a pool of lemon and garlic juice, the only drawback being that all that garlic might keep your friends at a distance for a while.
Dessert was created by Joe specifically for this event. It was simply known as “The Valón”:
“Ladies, the crowning jewel of the evening’s cuisine will shortly be making its international debut. ‘The Valón’ is prepared with finely sliced pound cake, laced with chocolate syrup, accompanied with finely cut strawberries and a splash of Irish Baileys, topped with whipped cream and a single cherry” – Announcing ‘The Valón’
Rather than trying to work out a seating plan we decided that the ladies should choose their own places. Therefore, we bought a pile of Saint cards and attached a lady’s name to each card. Upon arrival, after checking her coat, each lady would pick up her Saint card and place it where she desired to sit.
We bought two extra Saint cards – one of Mother Teresa and another of St. Agnes. We placed each of these under two chairs, the plan being that whoever sat on those chairs would win a prize. Unfortunately, nobody sat on the chair containing Mother Teresa’s card! D’oh! I discreetly removed the chair, retrieved the card and then stuck it underneath one of the dessert plates prior to serving.
We had two great prizes: a picture of Our Lady of Providence (donated by Fr. Joe) and a statue of Our Lady of Fatima (donated by Mike):
An important aspect of the evening was to give the ladies the opportunity to spend some uninterrupted time together, but what would a gala evening be without entertainment?! Boring, that’s what! So, during dinner, the ladies were entertained with some of Bedro’s classical repertoire.
After the main course had been cleared away, we played a DVD about the life of Mother Teresa, kindly loaned to us by the Sisters of Charity. After the dessert had been served, Vinnie serenaded the ladies on his ukulele, accompanied by Sean.
The evening culminated with all the guys singing “Goodnight sweetheart, goodnight”. Perhaps it was not the most polished or refined singing in the world, but it certainly was a fine sacrifice on the altar of personal dignity and one which the ladies seemed to enjoy greatly 🙂
After this, we put on “wedding disco” music and the ladies danced the rest of the night away. Before each was walked to her car, each received a single white rose:
At one point, after escorting one of the ladies back to her car, I returned to the hall to discover of all things, a conga line! Where did the ladies go? And where did this rowdy rabble come from?! 😉
The surprises did not end that night. We collected up all the names of the ladies who had attended and divided them up among the men. Each was then charged with offering some kind of prayer (rosary, Holy Hour etc) for those ladies. This blog entry now marks the official end of “Daughters Of The King”.
Late Night Reflections
After packing up the hall and kitchen, I arrived home at about midnight. I poured myself a glass of left-over champagne from the toast and had a chance to reflect…
It makes me very proud to have been a part of this event. I think it is going to stand out as one of the most significant undertakings of my life. I have never heard of anything like this being done before, and certainly not at a “grass roots” level.
Although I’m still not quite sure how I came to be the group’s “benevolent dictator” (well, mostly benevolent…), it meant that the event had been on my mind pretty much 24/7 for weeks. This had caused me to reflect upon how I’ve treated ladies in the past and how I am called to treat them as a Son of the same King. I have to say it was very humbling. In a certain way, I found the evening provided some atonement for the way I have treated or rather poorly treated, ladies in the past.
When talking with the guys, very few of us could come up with male role models from our formative years when it came to how we should treat women. There were very few who spoke of fathers, uncles or older brothers who really inspired them to honour the women in their lives. This is a very sad state of affairs, but it makes me all the more proud to be part of a group of men whose outlook is so different; a cadre of men who would be willing to undertake such a challenge as “Daughters of the King”, a community who don’t consider it anything particularly out-of-the-ordinary to open doors or pull out chairs.
Society in general, and advertising in particular, seems to constantly tell women that they are not good enough, that they do not have intrinsic worth, that they should expect little from men and keep their expectations and standards low. Unfortunately, this leads to a vicious cycle, since it is rare that a man will treat a women with any greater dignity than she herself believes she possesses. Hopefully, this evening went some way to correcting this widespread, gross distortion. So, if you’re a guy and you’re reading this, I would invite you to do something to honour the ladies in your life today – they are daughters of royalty.