About a year ago I wrote the story about my experience giving birth at a public hospital in Colombia. If not you can read about my terrifying but miraculous experience here. Yesterday we celebrated Daniels first birthday party together with our circle of expat friends who have been there for us like family during this last year. Words are inadequate to convey my experience but I will try.
Hosting a birthday party means you give your child a wonderful experience in an ecologically sensitive yet practical way.
1. For me decorations must be simple yet elegant. I conveyed a jungle vine idea with scrapbook paper cutouts. Ecological Rating: Neutral, I hate to waste paper but I also didn’t want to buy more pre-made props, so some colored paper which I have had for years became jungle vines and leaves!
2. Food should be simple and tasty yet nourishing. We have friends who are allergic to eggs, others with nut allergies and we all try to avoid gluten when possible. I baked two cakes from natural/organic, well sourced ingredients. That’s not always easy to do with language barriers or cultural differences. But at the least I helped smaller Colombian owned businesses. Buying local is always best!
Ecological Rating: High, local sourced means less distance for shipping, lower carbon output, often more sustainably produced, and benefits local economy.
3. It was memorable. I can’t believe what happened when we lit the candle on Daniels birthday cake!
4. Invite the people who count! It wouldn’t be a party without our dear friends in attendance. Together we represented Canada, Australia, US, and of course our Colombian friends and family! Hearing the variety of accents, expressions and languages is a fun experience for any expat, even more so to raise my son around. I hope little Daniel grows up well-rounded, well-cultured and most importantly open minded.
5. Gifts. Definitely not as important. Do babies even comprehend the idea? Probably not. Together Jaime and I decided to discourage toys and encourage clothing, second hand welcome. It’s amazing how wonderful and colorful looking baby toys are yet how uninterested a baby can be when they have access to kitchen knick knacks. Anyways, almost everything was too big…which is ok, it was all so handsome! Poor Daniel is completely worn out.
The spirit of a birthday is in the gathering of like minded people and their families. I can’t wait till Daniel is bigger and able to participate more. I hope he forgets about the candle incident! Too bad his American grandparents couldn’t be there with us. Til they are able to visit again, Daniel will have our expat family/community there to know him, mentor him and help me to raise my baby the best way I possibly can.