Betty’s Jubilee Celebration

“Count off seven sabbaths of years—seven times seven years—so that the seven sabbaths of years amount to a period of forty-nine years. Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each one of you is to return to her family property and each to her own clan.” (Leviticus 25:8-10 NIV)[1] 

At forty-nine, I had been pondering what it would feel like to turn fifty. When I read this passage, I toyed with the possibility of applying the reading to myself. The combined ideas of celebrating, consecrating to God, taking time to rest, forgiving and being forgiven, and returning to homeland and family all appealed to me. I could be a Jubilee Woman! As part of returning to my clan, I began to write about the women in my family who had influenced me. That grew to a booklet about fifty women who blessed my fifty years. I wanted to thank the ladies who taught me, through their example, how to be a friend, a woman, a mother, a writer, a neighbor, and a child of God.

The idea grew to fruition as, shortly before my fiftieth birthday, I invited the local women to my home for a tea in their honor. I had a wonderful time preparing. I printed copies of my Fifty Years – Fifty Women booklet, complete with two homemade bookmarks. One repeated the Jubilee quote from above, and the other quipped, A Woman is like tea. You’ll never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water. — Eleanor Roosevelt.” I crocheted tiny teapots and glued them to magnets. I made nametags, added teacup stickers and a word depicting the gift each women had taught me—words like graciousness, involvement, and hospitality. I nestled tea samples, chocolates, and a demitasse spoon into a teacup for each lady to take home.

The day before the party, my daughters and mother flew through the final preparations with me; we set tables (three sets of china), cut roses to float in crystal bowls, mixed ice tea, and washed teapots. My good husband had already added leaves to the tables and hurried to get my website functional. ( or

Then the big day and the ladies arrived! Old friends reconnected and conversation between strangers bounced from what their nametag might mean to how they met me. Ninety-degree weather didn’t deter us; we simply began with ice tea until the air conditioning cooled us enough to try new hot flavors. Tea sandwiches and scones disappeared, followed by cookies and chocolate dipped strawberries, fresh from the refrigerator. I gave a quick talk to thank the women for the gift of their examples and explain how I wanted to mark my jubilee year by letting them know how important each of them is to me.

Of course, it was over too soon, but I smiled through the next day, enjoying the afterglow and phone calls from many who attended. One auntie said she didn’t remember ever having more fun with a group of women. A friend told me I had changed the course of her life with a phone call I didn’t remember making. One said she felt like she had visited Europe for a day. Another was delighted to meet my daughters, who made the event flow smoothly as they refilled pitchers and teapots, while watching for anyone who needed to be drawn into conversation. Again and again, I heard that this party wouldn’t be the last of its kind.


How about it, Jubilee Women?

I encourage you to remember the women who have influenced you and imagine how many others your unique lives have blessed. If each of us is formed by fifty others, and leaves our touch on the soul of fifty more, imagine the heartstrings that weave the women of this world together.

Whom will you thank for their influence on you? How soon?

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