According to Wikipedia,
The word aloha derives from the Hawaiian words alo, meaning "presence," "front," "face," or "share"; and ha, meaning "breath of life" or "essence of life."... Over the decades the word aloha has been used in reference to a complex state of mind called the Aloha Spirit or sense of aloha. The Aloha Spirit is often described as a sense of care and hospitality to those around as well as respect for their personhood, even in the face of stressful environments, occasions or people.
Bud negotiated the crowded party beautifully, connecting with children and separating from them as he needed - eating pizza with his friends, but standing at the counter instead of crowding around the table; joining the hula activity by taking pictures with his digital camera instead of dancing; stepping into the kitchen when the living room got too busy, and into the living room when the kitchen got too busy.
Bud's friends were terrific. They engaged with him but gave him space, having already figured out that they will be most successful if they initiate brief, concrete opportunities for interaction - "Bud, will you take my picture?"; "Bud, can I take your picture?"
Carla herself was remarkable. Despite the fact that it was her day to be center of attention, she went out of her way to make Bud feel special, too. She chose his present to open first, and ooh-ed and aah-ed with the other girls about the Polly Pockets and Littlest Pet Shop toys inside. Later, when everyone moved into the kitchen for cake, she sought us out and said to me "I really like the present Bud gave me."
"I'm so glad," I said. "Bud picked it out himself."
"He's a really good present-picker," she said. Then she walked past me and over to where Bud was taking pictures, and said "You're a really good present-picker, Bud."
"Yeah!" he said from behind the camera.
As the party was wrapping up, I had a chance to chat for a minute with Carla's mom, who, it turns out, is an as-yet-unpublished writer working on her MFA in creative writing. We discovered quickly that we have a mutual writer-friend. She told me about a book that she thought might interest me. And she explained that she's in the process of opening a "writer's studio," the plans for which are still evolving - perhaps a writer's workshop series, some seminars and writing groups, a space for people to come and write in a conducive environment. Perhaps, in other words, exactly what I might be looking for.
A short time later, with ten minutes to go before the party's scheduled end, Bud came to me and said "It's time to go home now." I told him we could go, but that we'd need to say "thank you" to Carla first. Bud walked directly to Carla and said, "Thank you, Carla. I had a great time at the party." I explained to the room that it was time for us to go, and we exited to a chorus of "Bye, Bud!"
As we pulled out of Carla's driveway, I asked Bud, as I often do, if he'd had a hard day or an easy day, and without hesitation he replied that the day had been easy.
When we got home from the party, I downloaded the pictures from Bud's camera. I found a number that captured the spirit of Carla's party as I experienced it.
But there was another series of pictures that Bud took at the party - a series striking in its artistry, capturing aspects of the party that only Bud saw, that only Bud appreciated, with imagery that simply takes my breath away.