Sunday, January 23, 2011

Funcycle Party

Cote turned one this week! I can't believe she is that old. We decided to celebrate in a unique way.

The e-invitation went out with this explanation:

We are celebrating Cote's birthday with a funcycle in leiu of a traditional birthday party. Please bring any toys or household items your would like to declutter from your home. Our family certainly has a lot of extra stuff after the holidays.

We will set up items like a free garage sale in our house. We will let Cote go "shopping" among the items first and then other children and finally, our adult guests. We will share the things we aren't using anymore. Maybe some of us will find treasures.

Anything left will be donated to a local thrift store. We want it to be fun and casual for everyone. Please do not feel you have to bring anything. Please limit your number of donations to one truckload. ;)

We got a lot of positive feedback on the idea and we were eager to see how it would work.

Some of our family members arrived early and spent some time entertaining and being entertained by our children. Each person carried in at least one offering to our event. There was something more casual and less flamboyant about the lack of glitzy wrapping paper and gift bags. It was almost as if the presents themselves were casually dressed, barefoot even. Natural and comfortable. The focus was on the relationship with each person instead of the appetizing mystery package in their arms. There were no expectations, just loved ones who held some momento or contribution in their arms.

The school room was set up with display tables and everyone placed their items somewhere while obviously checking out the goods at the same time. Some guests immediately smiled when they saw an item that piqued their own interest. It was all the fun of a garage sale without the uncertainty of asking, "How much ya want fer this?" It was a community sharing with one another. It was personal.

It strikes me how fittingly this gathering mirrored the warm, casualness of Cote's homebirth. That night, a year ago, some of the same people sat and enjoyed each others company, barefoot or in slippers, sitting on comfortable furniture. Those loved ones waited with me, projecting their love and encouragement as I labored and Cote traveled to meet us. There was laughter, compassion, remembrances. It was intimate and busy and lovely.

More friends and family arrived at our party with humble and joyful offerings. These were items from their own homes. Sure, those items had originally come from a store somewhere. But they had gone home, been loved and broken in.

At this point, I can't remember whether we ate or went "shopping" first. We enjoyed some homemade meatballs, mixed fruit and a lovely cake, designed with the allergies and special needs of all the children present.

It's all kind of mixed up in my mind with easy conversations and happy children enjoying each other's company. Some babies got fussy and were nursed. Some babies were wrapped up lovingly on their mother's backs. Children ran around inside and outside. Just like her birth, it was intimate and busy and lovely.

I took Cote into the "shop" and her body immediately leaned in my arms as she reached for a plastic telephone. I picked a few items I thought she'd like and she picked up a plush Mr. Spock which she owned before I put him in the donation bag. She'd never really shown interest in him before. Yesterday, she picked him up and declared "Dada!" as she lovingly regarded the Star Trek character, causing many to erupt in laughter.

The other two babies selected some items and then the older guests shopped. Liam found a toy lawn mower. Two-year-old Addie found several items including an Ab Roller! Nine-year-old Micah selected a nice mini mag-lite box set. Then she and her sister picked some items for their brothers who didn't make it to the party. John chose a tea pot with matching mugs in a rooster motif. Hannah found a princess hopscotch set. I inherited a friend's set of drinking glasses. My mother snagged a yogurt maker while my grandmother chose a board game to play with her friends in her retirement community. My mother-in-law found a decoration or two. Twelve-year-old Christopher took home a fog machine and some button-up shirts.

I'm not sure what everyone chose or even if everyone chose something. We have very few items left and plan to drop them off at Goodwill tomorrow. Thank you all who celebrated with us. We had a lovely, busy time remembering the birth of our Buttercup one year ago. Happy birthday, Cote Elise!

To see more pictures of the event, click here.