Wednesday, April 9, 2008

3 December: Beth's Special Day

For the past several weeks, Shannon, Jane and I have been planning a special party in honor of Beth’s impending motherhood. Beth has been quite superstitious about her pregnancy and didn’t want a baby shower, so we decided to hold a “celebration of women, friendship and motherhood” instead with a group of close friends from the IWC. I volunteered to host the party, as it would be my last opportunity to entertain before our belongings are strewn to the four winds.

The festivities began at 10:00 this morning. Guests included Shannon, Brenda, Katrina, Thuy, Jane, and Tine (Jane and Tine brought their baby daughters along; Jane’s daughter Vera got along quite well with Cody, who was happy to give her big kisses). Everyone brought a dish to share; we ended up with egg salad sandwiches, pasta, fruit salad, cake, and chocolate chip cookies (the last made by me especially for Beth). I made party favors in the form of tiny glass canisters filled with loose tea, a spicy holiday blend provided by Jane.

With Jane and Shannon’s inspiration, we had several fun activities planned. First, everyone had been instructed to bring a bead to make into a bracelet for Beth. We went around the room and each person explained what the bead symbolized and why we thought Beth would make a wonderful mother. A few people hadn’t been able to find beads so I let them delve into my stash of jewelry-making supplies. At the last minute I chose a large ceramic bead in a pleasing shade of iridescent peach from my collection. I have had this bead since I was 12 or 13 years old; I bought it at the bead shop in Palo Alto while on a jewelry-making outing with my best friend, and made it into a necklace strung on a silk cord. I wore the necklace for a few years and eventually took it apart; the round peach bead has been sitting in my stash ever since. As I started explaining the bead’s history, I looked up and saw that Beth was beginning to get teary-eyed, which of course made me become quite emotional as well, so we both ended up having a good cry (blame it on the rampant hormones of pregnancy).

Our other piece of show-and-tell was to read aloud a favorite quote or story about motherhood or friendship. Some people quoted literature (Shannon brought excerpts from Alice in Wonderland) and others simply wrote straight from the heart. I had selected a quote about motherhood that I printed out and surrounded with pictures of all of the mothers in my life, and told Beth that I hoped that the collective wisdom of mothers everywhere would guide her on this new and exciting journey. It would be my job to collect all of the readings after the party and assemble them into a memory book for Beth, along with photos from today’s festivities.

Finally, we all brought Beth gifts designed to help her through the last months of her pregnancy. I knew a long time ago exactly what I wanted to give her: the original paperback versions of The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley. These were my two favorite fantasty novels from my high school days and have provided some of the inspiration for my novel. When I gave them to her, I pulled out my own ragged-edged, faded copies to show her as well. Beth also received lots of luxurious bath products and just a few baby toys to put her well on the path towards motherhood. All in all, it was a lovely, emotional gathering and one that I am sure Beth, and all of us, will always remember fondly!

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