November 29, 2012
Dolly turned ten this past Sunday.
We have called Brienne Dolly since she was a baby. She was our doll, our last baby, and the name stuck. We know a Dolly, she's a sweet woman in her seventies. I wonder if Brienne will stay Dolly as she grows or if that will just be a family pet name like my nickname Tootsie.
My dad, and rarely my mom, are the only people who call me that now and there is something special about having a term of endearment that only your parents use. Like I am still a child. Cared for. Precious.
Dolly's birthday started with breakfast waffles served on the fanciest plate we own. (In truth, her birthday started weeks in advance with crafting, sewing, and sourcing gifts, but that comes later in the post).
There's a story to that plate. I may have shared this story before, but I'll tell it again.
When I was engaged to Damien I had a tea party themed bridal shower with my wedding attendants and all the women in my family, essentially the same people, except for my maid of honor who is still a friend to this day. Not all the women in my family and Damien's of course, or that would be the size of a wedding itself, but the close aunties and cousins that lived locally or within a few hours drive.
In those days I drank tea from tea cups. (Since then I've moved to a mugs and now I have one mug for everything, even wine.) So I asked each woman to bring, as a gift, a tea cup and saucer from her collection or a find from a thrift store.
For over a decade, I toted those tea cups around continental North America as we moved from Alberta to New Jersey and then to Maine. Before we left Maine to return to Canada I let myself depart with the cups I wasn't most attached to. I hope my bridesmaids and aunties can forgive me.
Before downsizing my collection, I let the kids each pick a favorite cup to keep. The antiques, those pieces from my grandmothers and great-grandmother, I also kept.
I am somewhat of a minimalist but I have a sentimental streak and treasures from my grandmothers are precious to me. A few tea cups sit in the cupboard and are brought out for special celebrations (a past birthday of Brienne's). And I have found simple, everyday ways to display and use the most beautiful sets.
At that bridal tea party, so many years ago, my mother-in-law gave me a plate from her wedding set. That plate has become the plate of honor in our home. We use it only for birthdays and sometimes Christmas. Birthday waffles just wouldn't be the same if they weren't served on this plate.
The white tablecloth was a wedding gift from my paternal grandmother. It is the nicest tablecloth I own and because we only use it four or five times a year it remains in excellent condition even after 16 years of marriage. And no, I don't iron it.
The embroidered linen tablecloth from my maternal grandmother, smaller than the large white one, no longer hangs on our wall and so it too adorns our birthday celebrations.
These heirlooms are the backdrop for our special days. The kids are just as intent, if not more so, on keeping these traditions.
I love this part of having older kids. I'm not the only one responsible for memory making. They delight in late night decorating for the birthday sibling and in keeping traditions that make our family birthdays special.
They also delight in making each other toys and gifts. And Dolly's tenth birthday celebration was no different.
Laurent gifted Brienne a farmer's house and daughter (complete with stained apron) for her medieval people collection. Apparently she already has a farmer and I guess he needs a daughter and a dwelling.
A pocket pixie-ish (that pattern has served us well) cat doll was created by Céline, inspired from a fantasy video game Céline likes to read about. The character Lyre from Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, if you want to know. That is where my knowledge of the subject ends.
Céline designed both the doll and the accompanying card. Who needs a store with Céline around!
Brienne was also gifted a Nana and Papa-made princess canopy for her bed. The only item on her birthday wish list.
When my mom couldn't find one she decided to make it. My dad, the builder, helped with the construction and "installation" instructions.
After presents there was a Tinkerbell movie, nail painting, snow play, Skype and cake decorating. A family of six, we are getting to know, came for supper - baked potatoes and all the toppings. A lot of kids, a lot of fun.
Birthdays are special. In our home, they're not big kid-party affairs anymore with goodie bags and games. I did those for a few years and I'm happy to be done. But they're just as special, probably more so.
The meaning comes from celebrating each other and speaking love in word and deed over the birthday boy or girl. In staying connected to our past with favorite heirlooms; talking with loved ones, if only on Skype. And of course, in eating lots of special foods.
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